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Duric:"AFC Cup exit don't reflect the real picture"

AFC Swansong for Duric?
As he strolled off the pitch following the end of the AFC Cup Group H match that saw his side Tampines Rovers lost 3-2 to Selangor FA of Malaysia, it could also mean the end of continental involvement as a player for 42-year-old Aleksandar Duric since his appearance with Geylang United in 2004 followed by his stint with SAFFC that included an appearance in the prestigious Asian Champions League in 2009.

Definitely not the kind of curtain down that anyone would want for, as it was deemed a "dead-rubber" encounter following Stags' last week loss to Saigon Xuan Thanh to quash any hope of advancement for the defending S.League champions.

It concluded that the Stags will be for the second consecutive time not making past the group stages in their last six appearances with their best showing in 2005 to 2007 that saw make them made it to the elimination phrase.

The exit from the second-tier Asian club tournament by both Tampines Rovers and Warriors FC (Singapore's other representative in the tournament) would mean the harsh reality that Singapore football need to face from now on.

Duric's 58th minute effort levelled the scores at 2-2
However, to Duric, himself, it's not the case of the rest of region are catching up, but mainly the lack of luck and tactical mistakes during those matches that caused the Stags exit from this level.

Sharing his thoughts with this blogger, the decorated goal poacher said:"I think all the teams in our group (Group H) are equally strong, we really didn't have the luck that we could have won a few games and we also not started well,

"I guess there were a few tactical mistakes in the first few games and in this kind of tournament, it's very important that you must win those games especially when you were at home, therefore, things got a bit pressurize when you lost in those matches."

The conversation also touched on the question why Tampines are not able to translate its unbeaten domestic form (nine matches unbeaten since the start of the S.League season this year) to the tournament that used to see them as regulars at the knock-out phrase in the past following a record of two draws and four defeats.

Aerial duel with Selangor's Mahalli Jasuli
Said the former national striker:"There were many problems to look at it like tactically and the shape of the team during some matches we played, we had chances that we did not score when we must, as you don't have many of those in such games which we could have won them comfortably, yet we didn't and I would say that's the difference between playing in a league and AFC Cup."

"Honestly, I thought we would go far (in the AFC Cup) with this team whom we have with so many good players and those we played together in the national team, unfortunately, along the way we lost a few key players, but at the end of the day what matters is how we perform on the pitch."

"Whether other countries in the region are catching up and improving with the kind of financial resources they have, I don't know, but we have been at the top for so long with the recent Suzuki Cup win had proven, despite having smaller resources, we still have one of the best leagues, thus our result in this AFC Cup may not reflect the real picture."

Amri Yahyah (no 17) spoiled the Stags' day with double effort display
Nonetheless, Duric refused to attribute much of the poor showing to the scheduling of the local fixtures that were raised by his previous coaches like Richard Bok and Vorawan Chitavanich in the past.

"More or less I can agree (with them), but at the same time I look at other teams in our group that they are facing the same problems like ours, maybe because at times we need to travel quite far a distance and play in those humidity conditions, therefore, it would take some time to recover.

"But players need to get used to that and I don't think there will be much changes in the near future of this scheduling with that we will now stay focused on the S.League and the (Singapore) Cup that is coming up soon." opined the one-time Olympian.


  1. Whether would all agree with what the veteran striker said, the failure for Singapore clubs not able to make past the group stages of the second-tier Asian club tournament makes all wonder if Singapore is too contented with Suzuki Cup success of late?

  2. I have always asked myself: is the standard of our local players, foreign players and coaches remain stagnant or drop off comparing against rivals.

    Is lack of $$$ becoming a competitive disadvantage now?

    Or are we expecting too much in the first place?

    I think it is obvious that our coaching standard has improved slightly over the years which is reflected in the general playing standard in the sleague. But make no mistake, there are a lot of room for improvement.

    The FAS should seriously consider bringing in a coach trainer to train our coaches to stop playing the English way.

  3. Are the S-league CEO/COO missing in action or there is a gag order imposed on them? There are still so many issues that needs answers and yet I don't see anyone from the top actually coming forward to address these issues plaguing our football.


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