Harimau Muda coach Ong Kim Swee believes his team is meeting expectations and he hopes to continue this momentum to finish amongst the top teams in the S.League.
In a match where Harimau Muda sprung to life only in the second-half, Ong said his players were underperforming and complacent, which forced him into the bold decision of making two substitutions late into the first-half.
“In the first-half, the players looked tired and were taking things lightly," he explained.
"So in the end we got punished. But in the second-half, they showed good character. As against DPMM, they tried very hard and in the end we got three goals”.
“These are boys and sometimes I need to wake them up.”
“If I have to make three [substitutions], I will make three because they are not performing. For me, if you don’t perform, out you go. I don’t care who you are”
He also spoke of his disbelief of needing to defend a narrow lead, when queried on the decision of his team to push forward in the latter stages of the game instead of defending the lead.
“We cannot afford to take things lightly even though we are leading, especially when it is 2-1,” said Ong.
“Even when you are leading 2-1, if you take things lightly, it might jeopardize your lead in terms of conceding a second goal with any single mistake”
Given the physical nature of the affair, he also said that the match reeked of rivalry citing that, “Singapore is represented by their Under-22s and we are the Malaysian Under-23s, so it becomes a matter of Lions vs Tigers.”
Courts Young Lions coach Robin Chitrakar lamented the soft nature of the goals conceded and also disputed the free-kick that led to Harimau Muda’s second goal which he believed shifted the momentum in their opponent’s favour.
Yet he remained optimistic and hopes that his team can match their first-half performance in subsequent matches.
“We should look at our first-half performance and build on it,” explained Chitrakar.
“The boys tried their best. They gave everything. We were unlucky to concede those goals. Obviously we are getting better and hopefully we can maintain it”
The loss means Courts Young Lions remain winless this season while Harimau Muda earn their place amongst the top in the standings.