S.League: Jaguars in tune

S.League: Jaguars in tune
StarHub League Cup final between Brunei DPMM FC and Tanjong Pagar FC.

In the end, it wasn't meant to be for Tanjong Pagar United.

Their brilliant run in the StarHub League Cup ended with a defeat by Brunei DPMM in last Friday's final.

But, over the last few weeks, the Jaguars rediscovered their bite, offering a reminder of why they were touted as title contenders before the start of the 2014 Great Eastern-Yeo's S.League.

They were superb and ruthless in their wins over Albirex Niigata and Police SA in the group stage. They displayed resilience in the quarter-finals to beat Warriors FC in extra time. Then they held their nerves to down Hougang United on penalties in the last four.

They eventually came up short, as DPMM pipped them to the trophy with goals from Boris Raspudic and Adi Said for a 2-0 win, but Tanjong Pagar coach Patrick Vallee believes his side finally exhibited their true capabilities in the tournament.


"Of course, I'm very proud of how we performed in the League Cup," he said.

"The players gave 100 per cent and fought hard for the club and I think we were a little unlucky in the final; we played well and perhaps deserved better.

"We can be disappointed that we didn't end up lifting the trophy but we can't be disappointed with our performances.

"It was not easy playing five tough games in the span of less than a month but my team were able to show their skills and qualities, and I must again congratulate them."

Next up for the Jaguars is an S.League clash with Home United at the Bishan Stadium tonight.

It promises to be a tricky encounter, as the Protectors have been their bogey team in recent times.

Since the start of the 2013 season, Tanjong Pagar have lost four of their five meetings with Home, including a 4-1 defeat in last year's RHB Singapore Cup final.

Nonetheless, Vallee has no doubts his team will bring to the table the same battling qualities they displayed in the League Cup.

"I've always said Home United are a team capable of challenging for the title every season," the Frenchman said.

"They're always very motivated to play against us and we usually have a difficult time against them.

"They will come at us with a strong team and they are tough to beat when they play to their potential.

"I will not be so confident as to say we will beat them, but I am sure my side will play with the same mentality that we witnessed in the League Cup."

Vallee will be heartened by the sharpness of his attack, with the trio of Sebastien Etiemble, Ahmad Latiff and Kamel Ramdani looking impressive behind an equally formidable target man Monsef Zerka.

It is clear the return of Latiff and Ramdani from long-term injuries has given the side a lift.

With close to a fully fit squad to choose from, Vallee admits it is a welcome relief to finally have his best players back.

He said: "Sure, I'm very happy with how the four of them have done but you must not forget we also have Firdaus (Idros) and Asraf (Rashid).

"It can only be positive for the club to have six quality players competing for these four spots in attack.

"When there is a suspension or injury - and we've had a lot of them this season - you can bring someone else in and be confident he can do a job.

"So, for me, it's just good to have options and be able to change things up when we need to."

* The writer is a freelancer


This article was published on July 30 in The New Paper.

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