Football: Despite coach Aurelio Vidmar's departure, Sailors' sights still set on SPL title

The Sailors will be looking to return to action with a win against Geylang International on May 9. ST PHOTO: KEVIN LIM

SINGAPORE - A week after Lion City Sailors head coach Aurelio Vidmar's departure, his former players are still continuing the practices that the Australian instilled during his stint at the club.

Discipline had been a key part of his tenure, with the 54-year-old implementing a no-slipper dress code, demanding punctuality and insisting that players had to carry themselves professionally on and off the pitch.

Club captain and goalkeeper Hassan Sunny said: "He brought a different dimension to our thinking and he wanted us to be professionals. There have been a lot of changes to the team, players and the club, which have all been positive.

"When he left, we felt a bit down initially. But we had a chat and told ourselves that we had to bring all the positive things that he brought to the club forward and apply it in the future."

Sailors Under-21 coach Robin Chitrakar has been handed the task of steadying the ship until the club finds a permanent replacement for Vidmar, who has returned to his former club, Thai champions BG Pathum.

Even without Vidmar, who leaves the team second in the league after eight games, the goal remains the same for Singapore football's first privatised club - to win the SPL title.

Chitrakar, 44, said: "In professional football, we only talk about wins and as much as possible, we want to win every game and eventually be champions."

With the team on a five-game unbeaten streak, they are confident that they can keep the momentum going. Out of the eight games that the Sailors have played, they have won five, drawn two and lost one.

So far, they have also scored the highest number of goals - 27 - a testament to Vidmar's attacking style of football.

Sailors forward Stipe Plazibat, who has eight goals this season, said: "When there is change, there will always be some worry about what will happen. But for now, I don't feel any different because we are still with familiar faces and Robin is someone we know from before."

After a two-week break from the league, the Sailors will be looking to return to action with a win against Geylang International on Sunday (May 9).

Over three weeks ago, they thumped the Eagles 8-0, but Chitrakar is not underestimating their oponents.

He said: "If you look at the match and take away the score, Geylang played really well in the first 20 to 30 minutes. They are not pushovers and will give us a very good game on Sunday."

While Vidmar has departed, Geylang coach Noor Alidoes not feel the Sailors have been weakened. He expects another tough game against them even though all his foreign signings - Brazilian attacker Matheus Moresche, Japanese defender Yuki Ichikawa and Dutch pair Sylvano Comvalius and Barry Maguire - are available this time around having overcome injury and fitness issues.

He said: "The Sailors have the same 20 players who've been performing week in, week out. They've got too many players to stop, but we'll just have to work together as a team.

"(The previous game) I had only 10 local players and Yuki, which made it hard for us. But to look at the positive side, we started it well. The first four goals killed the game for us and when you concede four goals, you need a lot of character to bounce back. We'll be going in with a different set-up this time around and we'll be very cautious."

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