Akbar: Even if Tampines had Messi, we'd still be under pressure

Even if Tampines had a certain Barcelona player, head coach Akbar Nawas believes his side would still be feeling the pressure to overturn a 1-0 deficit against Bengaluru in Wednesday night's AFC Cup quarter-final...

Tampines Rovers' head coach Akbar Nawas admits his squad is feeling the pressure to deliver against Bengaluru on Wednesday evening.

The two sides meet again just a week after Tampines lost 1-0 in Bangalore and the Stags know the heat is on if they want to stay alive in the competition.

“This pressure is definitely there, no matter how much we say (it isn’t),” Akbar shared.

“We say we have many Singapore national players, but even if we have (Lionel) Messi in our squad, we will still feel this pressure.”

Part of the pressure has been exerted by the coach himself, after he challenged his squad to put on a better display in the return leg.

The Stags were poor in the first half against Bengaluru in the first clash, before giving a much-improved display after the restart.

“We were definitely not happy with our performance from the first leg,” Akbar said.

We were definitely not happy with our performance from the first leg. We need to step it up from the start of the game

“We need to step it up from the start of the game and not take Bengaluru lightly.

“I would say to them to keep composed; yes it is a 1-0 score line. And if they score an away score, it will be an uphill task to score three goals, but we must be composed.”

Regardless of the result in the return leg, Akbar stated that he wanted his charges to give a good account of themselves and make their nation proud.

Tampines have an opportunity to reach the semi-finals of the continental tournament for the first time in their history.

“At the end of the day, we can only play our best. If the result does not go in our favour, it is not the end of the world.

“Can we walk with our heads up, even if the result is not in our favour? That’s the message I want the boys to receive."

Photo: FAS