Tampines skipper Mustafic Fahruddin 'upset' over club situation after pay cut reports

Tampines' camp is gutted following the management's decision to come up with pay cuts.

Jermaine Pennant
Pennant is likely to leave the club at the end of his one-year contract Reuters

Tampines Rovers skipper Mustafic Fahruddin conceded he was upset with the recent developments at the S.League club which has hinted considerable reduction in the wage budget.

The management had reportedly told the players that it was willing to retain only those accept a monthly salary of upto $2,500. However, the Tampines have international stars of the likes of Jermaine Pennant, Jordan Webb and Billy Mehmet who earn more than $10,000 a week and Singapore internationals who draw between $4,000 to $10,000 a month.

Despite the uncertainty surrounding their future with the club, the Stags rallied to a 3-1 win over Garena Young Lions on Saturday. Goals from Mehmet, Webb and Yasir Hanapi made sure the Tampines climbed to the second spot on the 2016 S.League table behind leaders Albirex Niigata, who clinched the title on Friday with a 3-0 win over Hougang United.

Tampines will meet Albirex in their final league clash on 26 October and also in the Singapore Cup final on 29 October. Fahruddin remained confident about the rest of the season after Saturday's win but added he was not able to hide his emotions amidst the situation at the club.

"I cannot hide it, I am really upset. But, considering the situation, the boys have done really well," Fahruddin was quoted as saying by The New Paper.

"We have shown that we are professionals who can go out there and do a job no matter what is happening outside the pitch."

Club chairman Krishna Ramachandra maintained that his management's intention was to have a sustainable future and also did not rule out exits of key players including Pennant.

Meanwhile, ex-chairman Teo Hock Seng expressed concerns about the side's ability to compete at the Asian level if the present situation leads to loss of key players. Notably, Tampines, who reached the quarter-final of the 2016 AFC Cup have booked their slot in the next year's edition as well.

Coach Akbar Nawaz revealed how difficult it was to motivate the players before Saturday's S.League game. While maintaining he was happy with the 3-1 result, the 41-year-old conceded that the players would definitely be concerned about their futures.

"To be playing in conditions like these is not easy, we're going to be thinking about what's going to happen in the future, and I'm definitely pleased with this result and performance," Akbar said.

"Tonight's result is small solace, at least we're going home with a smile on our faces, but I'm sure we'll be thinking about [the future] when we go to sleep.

"It is a psychological battle till the RHB Singapore Cup final."

A few players, who spoke to the paper on conditions of anonymity, also revealed some of them have already started looking for new clubs and blamed the Tampines management for letting them down.

"We got to the AFC Cup quarter-finals, maybe second in the league and will play in the cup final, we've done our jobs, but the management have failed us," a player said, as quoted by the report.

"Players are calling clubs and offering themselves."