Bacina remains unsure of Tampines starting XI

Tampines Rovers coach Nenad Bacina reveals he is still uncertain of his strongest starting XI ahead of the 2013 Great Eastern-YEO's S.League season.

...and receives the plaudits from his team-mates!
Gabriel Tan

By Gabriel Tan

Bacina is currently preparing for his first year in charge of the Stags and already has big boots to fill given the club won back-to-back titles in the last two seasons under Steven Tan and Tay Peng Kee.

Nonetheless, the Croat has a star-studded squad as his disposal having retained the bulk of last year's title-winning side, while adding ex-LIONSXII regulars Khairul Amri, Shahdan Sulaiman and Shaiful Esah, Japanese defenders Seiji Kaneko and Kunihiro Yamashita, and Argentine marquee player Martin Wagner.

And ahead of Friday evening's Charity Shield clash against Warriors FC, Bacina admits he is yet to decide on his strongest XI for next Wednesday's season opener against Eastern rivals Geylang International.

"We have enough quality players to rotate throughout the whole season and that's why the starting XI has not been decided," he said. "For me, there is no division in the camp.

"They are all first-team players and regardless of how much playing time they get, they have to do their best to contribute to the team.

"My team is filled with quality players and my job is to make them play as a team and work hard, and so far, I am very happy with the players. I can see some of them have really pushed themselves to the limit, and some even beyond their limits.

"It is good to have competition in the team. The players compete for every spot and that is my biggest satisfaction so far."

Given the Stags' illustrious history, they are likely to be serious contenders for the title once again this year and, revealing he wants to cultivate a winning mentality in his players, Bacina is hoping they can start on the right note in Friday's clash at the Jalan Besar Stadium.

"Regardless of who we are playing and what the purpose of the game is, we will try our best to win," the ex-Hougang United boss added. "That will be the approach for this team for the 2013 season.

"We want to win the Charity Shield and contribute to charities, but for us as a professional team, it is a challenge to win the trophy on Friday to start the season in good spirit.

"Of course, losing is part and parcel of the game and I do not want to put too much pressure on my team by saying we must win. We need to put in good performances, give our best and practice tactical discipline.

"At the end of the day, if we can follow these, I am sure the results will come. We are not afraid to lose games but we will try and win every game."

Tampines came close to winning the double last year but lost out to Warriors 2-1 in the RHB Singapore Cup final, and can go some way in avenging that defeat by winning this season's curtain raiser on Friday.

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