Once again, a furious Tampines Rovers coach Tay Peng Kee has laid the blame for defeat squarely on the shoulders of the Football Association of Singapore.
“The players were so tired, especially in the last ten to fifteen minutes. I want to emphasize this again: even the Premier League [teams] do not play four games in twelve days. Definitely, [the] FAS is not doing us a favour.
“We are not a victim of our own success but rather, a victim of S.League blunders on this [fixture scheduling],” Tay bemoaned.
The ex-national player also revealed that the players felt downhearted after the match, as they had given their all.
“The boys are disappointed despite trying so hard against Albirex [and losing]... Of course, I am disappointed. We actually tried to pick up a point rather than lose three points. If we had a point, it will be much better,” he said.
Tay also did not mince his words when asked for his opinion on goalkeeper Sasa Dreven, who had a poor game.
“I don’t think he [Dreven] played a good game. In the first half, it was one shot and one goal [for Albirex]. I think that is ridiculous, and it is not like the ball is at the top corner - the ball just flew in between his legs.”
After experiencing his first defeat since taking over the reins from Steven Tan last month, Tay pointed to the dismissal of midfielder Fahdrudin Mustafic for a second bookable offence at 3-3 as the game's turning point.
“Fahrudin has always been a key player in the team. When he is gone, basically we do not have a holding midfielder, and I think that is a major factor that turned the game around,” he explained.
However, the former youth coach is certain that his team will still lift the league title at the end of the season.
“I am not too concerned, as all we need to do is to win the next two games, and we must win those games. The whole team plus myself are confident of it.
Tay then took the opportunity to take another potshot at the local footballing authorities as a parting remark.
“Honestly, I think we [have not] got much of a problem, and we still got a title to fight for. That itself is a major motivation factor for the rest of the players, whereas FAS has nothing to play for.”
The Stags' 4-3 loss at home to Albirex Niigata means that their lead at the top has been cut to six points, although the Japanese outfit have a game in hand. Third-placed Brunei DPMM trail by seven points, but have played two matches less.
Tampines will be sure of retaining their crown if they win their last two matches against Harimau Muda and SAFFC.