S.League: Win with verve

DIFFERENT DIRECTIONS: Aleksandar Duric (left) is in his final season while his coach Salim Moin (right) is in his debut season in the Tampines hot seat.

SINGAPORE - Win pretty, that's Tampines Rovers' mantra this season.

To that end, their new coach Salim Moin says he will "play to the strengths of the team" and adopt a base 3-5-2 formation, used to great effect by former Stags coach Vorawan Chitavanich.

The 52-year-old former national midfielder said: "That is the strength of the team, and I wish to see more possession football, as well as a great sense of belief in the players."

The former Gombak United, Balestier Khalsa and Woodlands Wellington coach is stepping into the highest-profile job in the Great Eastern-Yeo's S.League.

The Clementi-based club, league champions for the past three seasons, have set their sights higher in recent seasons but failed to make a mark in the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) competitions.

EXPECTATIONS

The high expectations have also seen head coaches Steven Tan and Nenad Bacina being relieved of their duties in the past two seasons, despite leading the league.

But the veteran coach was cool as a cucumber when asked about the pressures of his current job, and said: "Coaching has always been a high-profile job... it is very exciting, and a great honour. I will take it as a test of my coaching abilities and will take (the expectations) in my stride."

The Stags have again shown their ambition this season with the capture of marquee player Miljan Mrdakovic among other foreign signings, in addition to an influx of seasoned local players such as Shariff Allapitchay and Noh Alam Shah.

And while they are already out of the AFC Champions League after a 2-1 loss to South China in the qualifiers earlier this month, they will look to do better in the AFC Cup competition this season.

And long-time club stalwart and captain Mustafic Fahrudin believes his new coach, who is on a two-year contract, can bring the team to greater heights.

The 32-year-old said: "He has been a coach for a long time and he was a former national player too, so he understands how each player is different.

"He works to bring all our qualities together for the good of the team.

"He is a good communicator and he always takes the opinions of the senior players into account."

KEY TRANSFERS

In: Miljan Mrdakovic (FW, Serbian, Veria FC), Roberto Gamarra (FW, Paraguayan, Independiente), Luis Closa (MF, Paraguayan, Sport Boys), Noh Alam Shah (FW, PSS Sleman), Shariff Allapitchay (DF, Woodlands), Hyrulnizam Juma'at (GK, Warriors)

Out: Khairul Amri, Firdaus Kasman (FW, both LionsXII), Benoit Croissant (DF, French, retired), Seiji Kaneko (DF, Japanese, released)

THE COACH

Salim Moin steps into his highest-profile S.League job so far, with a plethora of talent at his disposal.

The 52-year-old former national player guided an unfancied Woodlands Wellington to fifth place last season, but will need to up his game to steer Tampines past the group stages of the AFC Cup this season, on top of domestic glory.

ONE TO WATCH

After 16 seasons in the S.League, the evergreen Aleksandar Duric will finally hang up his boots at the end of this season.

The affable 43-year-old fans' favourite has won the league eight times with three clubs, and is the league's all-time top scorer with 370 goals.

sayheng@sph.com.sg


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