He had just seen a goalkeeping gaffe consign his side to the first defeat of his tenure.
But Tampines Rovers coach Rafi Ali, who took over the reins of the Great Eastern-Yeo's S.League champions in April, wore a wide smile when he faced the press following his team's 1-0 defeat by Geylang International at the Jalan Besar Stadium last night.
He said: "I'm very, very proud of the boys. They played their hearts out, but were unlucky as they hit the post twice and had a goal disallowed.
"I told them if they continued playing like this, we will start getting the results we want."
Rafi admitted that the result of last night's other S.League match softened the blow of his team's defeat.
Over in Bandar Seri Begawan, a brace by birthday boy Qiu Li helped fire third-placed Home United to a 3-2 win over league leaders Brunei DPMM.
That means fourth-placed Tampines still trail DPMM by only six points.
The rookie coach rued his side's misfortune in front of goal last night.
Noh Alam Shah, who looked hungry and energetic despite still being short of match fitness because of a back injury, nodded home in the 69th minute but his strike was chalked off for offside.
If the linesman's flag foiling them once wasn't bad enough, the Stags found Geylang goalkeeper Siddiq Durimi in inspired form.
The former national Under-23 shot-stopper pulled off a number of big stops to keep his side in the match, the pick of which was a double-save to deny Alam Shah in the 75th minute.
Four minutes before the end, disaster struck for Tampines.
Goalkeeper Justin Pasfield, a new signing from A-League side Central Coast Mariners, inexplicably fumbled a mishit cross by Geylang fullback Yuki Ichikawa into his own goal.
The blunder was Pasfield's only mistake the whole game, as the former Australia U-23 goalkeeper pulled off two fine saves to deny Ridhuan Muhammad and Aliff Shafaein earlier in the game.
Rafi refused to pin any blame on his goalkeeper, calling his debut, along with those of Stags' two other new arrivals Jozef Kaplan and Jake Butler, "excellent".
"The first thing he (Pasfield) did after the match was apologise and say, 'My bad, boss'," said Rafi.
"But I told him we are all human, everyone makes mistakes.
"We just need to keep fighting, the team are full of seasoned players and I know we can bounce back."
Geylang coach Jorg Steinebrunner, who was banished to the stands in the second half for sarcastically offering the linesman a pair of glasses, said his side deserved the win.
"I wouldn't say we were fully lucky," said the German.
"Yes, the goal was a stroke of luck but, defensively, we had a good game plan and everybody worked hard for one another."
l TNP Man of the Match: Siddiq Durimi (Geylang)
l LAST NIGHT'S OTHER MATCH: BRUNEI DPMM 2 (Rodrigo Tosi 63, Boris Raspudic 84)
HOME UNITED 3 (Bruno Castanheira 17, Qiu Li 52, 79) S.LEAGUE
This article was first published on June 7, 2014.
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