Grabovac unfazed by winless sequence

Mirko Grabovac watching his Warriors in training ahead of tonight's match against Hougang. He sees it as the chance to kick-start their winless season.
Mirko Grabovac watching his Warriors in training ahead of tonight's match against Hougang. He sees it as the chance to kick-start their winless season.ST PHOTO: BENJAMIN SEETOR

Croatian coach backs his Warriors to finally turn the corner against bottom side Hougang


Warriors FC v Hougang United Choa Chu Kang Stadium, 8.30pm

His appointment in January was hailed as the return of a legend.

But, 10 games into the Singapore Premier League (SPL) season, Mirko Grabovac is still searching for his first win as Warriors FC head coach.

The 46-year-old Croat, who plundered 135 league goals, won two league titles and one Singapore Cup with the Warriors (1999-2003), was unfazed by their poor start.

As in scoring goals, it all boils down to confidence.

"It's normal to feel pressure when you don't win," he said.

"But, if we lose a match 5-0, maybe the pressure will be different.

"In every game we played, we had a chance to win. Even (second-placed) Tampines or (SPL leaders) Albirex were not much better than us when we played them."

His eighth-placed Warriors host bottom side Hougang United tonight at the Choa Chu Kang Stadium and Grabovac noted this was an opportunity to kick-start their season.

"Yes, this is a good chance, but Hougang have good players. They showed it when they gave a good fight against Albirex (who beat Hougang 1-0 for their 10th straight victory)," he noted.

"But we are playing at home, so I hope we will win. I'm sure after the first win, the confidence will come and we will build from there.

"For sure, I know it is coming."

Grabovac can take heart that he has the backing of club general manager Paul Poh, who said: "Yes, we have gone 10 games without a win, but there are a lot of factors involved that mean the result is not always in our hands.

"To me, it has nothing to do with the players or coach - they have been performing to expectations.

"In fact, if you go by our performances, I believe we should be in the top four."

Warriors defender Emmeric Ong said he and his team-mates are itching to make things right.

"It is frustrating when we look back at games where we should have taken the three points but didn't," added the 27-year-old Singapore international.

"It's a case of learning from our mistakes. The one positive we can take is that we know we have been playing well, and the mood in the dressing room is still good, and everyone's positive."

Hougang, winless in eight games, are also fired up to end their barren run, even if coach Philippe Aw admits his side have problems at both ends of the pitch.

"This season, we have always been chasing opponents," he lamented.

"The only time we took the lead was against the Young Lions in the last game (which Hougang eventually lost 2-1).

"When we create chances and don't score, then concede, obviously that makes it very difficult.

"Against the Warriors, it's important we put in the same team performance we did against Albirex. We must treat them as though they are top of the table."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 02, 2018, with the headline 'Grabovac unfazed by winless sequence'. Print Edition | Subscribe