League Cup: Jaguars focused on overcoming DPMM
Photography by Aundry Gan
The Jaguars of Tanjong Pagar United started their StarHub League Cup 2012 campaign on a losing note on Thursday when they fell 0-3 to SAFFC, which left their hopes of a solid run in this tournament in tatters.
Facing a negative goal difference of three and coming up against another tough opponent in the form of Bruneian side DPMM FC, they seem to be on the brink of being subjected to the plate competition, where the last-placed teams in all four groups compete among themselves.
However, despite the odds firmly stacked against them, the Jaguars will do their best and put it all out on the Queenstown pitch on Sunday evening in an effort to defend their home turf against the Wasps, who will play their first match of this tournament since winning it in 2009.
Tanjong Pagar captain Delwinder Singh acknowledged that it will be a real challenge for his side, but he vowed to rally the troops to put up a valiant performance in the team’s final Group A match.
“At the moment it is very hard,” admitted the 19-year-old.
“We are 0-3 down and so don’t have a good goal difference. Even if we manage to win by one goal, it might not be enough.
“So we have to just focus on taking our chances and getting the win. That is the thing we need to concentrate on.”
Tanjong Pagar managed to hold the Warriors for all of 64 minutes before the goals started pouring in. Former Jaguars man Aliff Shafaein benefitted from a defence that lacked concentration as he bagged a brace, while Marin Jonjic rounded off the result late in the match.
The inability to keep SAFFC at bay while failing to take their chances at the other end was the reason for their first defeat.
Haitian striker Gilbert Bayonne and former Warriors defender Hafiz Osman had several attempts, but they could not find the back of the net.
“We had our chances against SAFFC, but we did not take them,” said Singh.
“At the other end, we conceded. That’s football. If you don’t take your chances, you’ll be punished.
“The coach has addressed this in the dressing room, and we have a plan for the next match.”
A win is long overdue for Tanjong Pagar, especially since they had reinforced their squad during the mid-season transfer window.
Since then, though, they have collected just one point in their past six matches in all competitions.
In contrast, prior to the arrival of the transfer window, they had defeated the likes of Home United and Balestier Khalsa, indicating their ability to play fearlessly against sides that are stronger on paper.
However, against the Bruneians, it will be an uphill task.
The Wasps are looking to reclaim the title they won in 2009 after they beat SAFFC in the final on penalties.
They did not have the chance to defend their title as a FIFA suspension was imposed on Brunei’s football association later that year, but with the ban lifted, they will be aiming for nothing less than the title again.
A victory against the Jaguars, their first opponents in the tournament, will seal their qualification to the quarterfinals from the three-team group, but their position on the table will be determined only when they face SAFFC in the following match on Wednesday.
DPMM come into this match after victory against Geylang United in the league halted a three-game losing streak.
Brazilian striker Patrick da Silva, brought in during the transfer window, scored twice in the 3-1 win over the easterners, which placed his new team in a good state heading into the League Cup.
It was da Silva’s first time playing in the S.League, and from the looks of things, he is potentially a player that can impress in this part of the world.
Up against a shaky Jaguars defence, the 27-year-old will be keen to impress his new coach and justify his selection.
When the two teams played in the S.League earlier in the season, DPMM emerged as the winner at their Hassanal Bolkiah National Stadium home, but not before Tanjong Pagar gave them a scare.
Despite falling 0-3 behind, the visitors fought back in front of a partisan home crowd to claw two goals back.
With such a performance under their belts, the Jaguars can certainly take heart going into this encounter, for it seems that when critics write them off in a match, they put in a confident, fearless performance that more often than not gives them a positive result.
Singh indicated as much.
“We are confident in every match,” he said.
“We come into every match wanting to protect that one point we already have and trying to get three points. Losing or getting a draw is not enough for us.”
If they are able to display the same kind of effort, and if they are able to nick an early goal with a bit of help from Lady Luck, the game at Queenstown may turn out to be an exciting encounter.