Coach Profile – V Sundramoorthy, Tampines Rovers
Tampines have been making the biggest moves in the transfer window, securing nine LionsXII players, last season’s local-born top scorer Fazrul Nawaz, as well as signing former English Premier League (EPL) player Jermaine Pennant.
However, coach V Sundramoorthy is keen to play down the ‘title favourites’ tag as he pulled out current examples from the EPL where the supposed top teams are nowhere near the top of the table.
“On paper, we look good but football is not played on paper,” the 50-year-old told FourFourTwo. “You can look at Chelsea or even Liverpool this season.
“The underdog teams (in the S.League) are now just marginally away; it’s not like what it used to be where they are far away in standards.
“It’s going to be a tight competition this year, so we definitely need to be mentally ready for the tasks ahead.”
There is no doubting the quality within the Stags ranks, however, with Sundramoorthy optimistic of a good campaign after a barren first year with the club.
“We’ve brought in many young and promising players from the LionsXII and they all have quality,” he assessed. “We’re looking at the long-term process and these boys can certainly bring success to Tampines Rovers.
“I’ve signed a big squad because we have to juggle S.League and AFC (Champions League) commitments, so that can be quite taxing for the boys.
“We’re trying to build the base well and so far the players are adapting well to my tactics. We have a much younger team this year, so they can be pushed further in training and offer more energy.
Every player needs time to settle in, but with the quality he has, Pennant will be there. He has showed some nice touches so far so that’s the player I’m looking for.
“I don’t want to mention names, but hopefully these young boys can live up to the expectations of playing for this team.”
Of course Pennant’s signing seems to have rekindled the interest in Singapore football more than any other amongst local fans, with crowds of over 1,200 pouring into Jalan Besar Stadium for each of their two friendly matches – against Hougang United and Johor Darul Ta’zim II.
‘Sundram’, a crowd-puller himself in his playing days, is hoping that the hype stays for as long as possible.
“This is brilliant,” he quipped. “I can feel that the players are enjoying their football along with him. Also the media and the fans are here, these are the two most important factors in football now.
“He’s the high-profile player that the league needs and Tampines will definitely be boosted by his presence. Every player needs time to settle in, but with the quality he has, he will be there.
“He has showed some nice touches so far, can play either on the flanks or as a second striker, so that’s the player I’m looking for.”
While the target for Tampines is definitely to wrestle back the title which they last won in 2013, Sundramoorthy is keen to emphasise the need to entertain.
“It’s important to win games, but most importantly we need to play the kind of football which we want to play,” he said.
“We need to play the entertaining passing game and try to build from behind to set up attacks. Hopefully that’s the style which the fans want to see.”
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Photo: Weixiang Lim/FourFourTwo