Tampines Rovers head coach Juergen Raab believes that his team can get a positive result in today's AFC Cup 2017 Group G clash against Malaysia Super League runners-up Felda United at the Jalan Besar Stadium. However, the German tactician, who was appointed only last month after the surprise resignation of former coach Akbar Nawaz, rues lack of enough time to prepare for the all-important contest. [Check out live streaming information and preview of the match here]
Notably, Nawaz had led the Stags to a pre-season tour to Terengganu and was also part of the team, which lost to Global FC in the preliminary stage one match of AFC Champions League. His decision to part ways with the club came as a surprise but Tampines wasted no time in getting Raab, the former Garena Young Lions coach, on board.
Tampines will begin their S.League campaign in the Community Shield match against defending champions Albirex Niigata at the National Stadium on Sunday but a bigger test awaits them later today.
The revamped Stags unit, which let go off their last season's marquee signings Jermaine Pennant, Jordan Webb and Billy Mehmet, have found able replacements in Croatian import Ivan Dzoni winger Ryutaro Megumi from Japan, South Korea playmaker Son Yong Chan and national stars Khairul Amri and Madhu Mohana. However, there has not been enough time for the team to get accustomed to the style of the new coach.
Raab though heaped praise on the team for going ahead with two training sessions a day, an idea which he had proposed, and conceded that even he was surprised when his players agreed to take more workload.
"In my first meeting with the team, I told them this [double sessions] was the only way to improve and I was quite surprised that all the players are ready to work so hard. It is different to what they may be used to, but they know what the chairman and I want - to change the style and mentality of football here in Singapore," Raab said, as quoted by The New Paper.
"It is a strange feeling that my first match is such an important one, and not knowing what we can deliver. If I had six weeks of training with the team and had played two friendlies, I would have known more. But we will go out tomorrow wanting to put on a good, competitive performance, and try to win the match."
Notably, Felda are also facing a crisis situation as they have not won a game in their last five outings and are ranked a lowly-11th in the 12-team league standings. Also, their former head coach Azmi Mohamed resigned only 10 days ago and caretaker coach Mohamad Nik is on the process of getting things right.