Warriors’ Mirko Grabovac unstressed by winless run, Geylang hail Zainol

Warriors FC lost to Geylang International on Sunday but coach Mirko Grabovac is unstressed despite his team’s winless streak.

Grabovac’s team were downed 2-0 by the Eagles to see them languishing second from bottom and are one of two clubs along with Hougang United to have yet to register a win in the Singapore Premier League (SPL) this season.

Sunday’s match at the Sports Hub was another forgettable experience for Warriors who saw star striker Jonathan Behe miss a penalty in the second half.

Despite his team’s stuttering form, Grabovac is not worried about his position at the club but did stress the need for his players to up their game.

“It (the pressure) is normal, what can I tell you? That’s soccer life and it’s normal to feel like that,” Grabovac told FOX Sports Asia.

“I cannot believe (what) we are doing at set pieces. They (the players) have a lot of potential, but one-to-one (situations), they must improve. Soccer is about man-to-man (marking).”

The former striker was also quick to stress that the Warriors carved out enough goalscoring opportunities and would have gotten a different result had Behe been fully fit.

Grabovac added: “In the first half we had problems and we needed a lot of time to wake up. We must be concentrated and cannot make a penalty like that. He (Hafiz) has the ball and want to hit it, but the player comes and he hit the player.

“But in the last 30 minutes, we played fantastic and created many 100 per cent chances but did not score. Even the penalty we could not score, what can I say?

“Today my team have over 50 crosses and you can calculate how many shots we have. Geylang’s goalkeeper is very good, but the reaction of my strikers is not very good. They must be more cool; they can kick low and no need always go for power. And also if Behe is 100 percent fit, he would have scored (at least) three.”

Over in the Geylang camp, head coach Hirotaka Usui was in a buoyant mood after seeing his side record back-to-back victories for the first time this season.

Goals from Fumiya Kogure and Shawal Anuar ensured maximum points as Geylang continued their sudden rise to form.

Usui attributed the strong team spirit at Geylang for the win and also heaped praise on goalkeeper Zainol Gulam who was impregnable against Warriors.

“We’re very lucky to have Zainol in this game and I’m proud of him. Against Young Lions, he made an easy mistake which cost us two points. But today he saved us maybe four or five times and we’re going to give him one big present,” remarked Usui.

“I was surprised Kento (Fukuda) can play because he told me before the game he needed two more weeks. The last 10 minutes was very dangerous, they had Kento and Behe – the twin towers – upfront and we only have Yuki (Ichikawa) in defence so it’s very difficult. We must not forget that our defenders worked very hard.

“Actually when we lost against Albirex (Niigata FC (S)), we lost 5-0 but the defending wasn’t so bad; it was just four to five individual mistakes. I just focused on (getting) the team tactics (right) and I’m happy we kept our first clean sheet today.

“Playing at the National Stadium is a big and important experience for our young players. Of course it’s the same ball, same pitch size but the atmosphere is different. I also want to credit today’s win to our kitman Abdul Latiff because it’s his birthday. He comes to work at 7am and only leaves at 8pm. At Geylang, we are a small club but every person does hard work for the club.”

Warriors will have an opportunity to arrest that slide when they visit Jalan Besar stadium on Saturday to take on Fandi Ahmad’s Young Lions. Geylang play a day later at the Bedok Stadium against Tampines Rovers.