Lion City Sailors coach Aurelio Vidmar welcomes favourites tag
Sailors coach says his side, who have signed big names under new ownership, must embrace pressure
Lion City Sailors coach Aurelio Vidmar has no issue with his side being labelled favourites for the Singapore Premier League (SPL) title. In fact, the Australian welcomes it.
The Sailors, who became Singapore's first privatised football club last month, will kick off their season against Tanjong Pagar United at the Jurong East Stadium today.
|TANJONG PAGAR||LION CITY SAILORS|
Bankrolled by billionaire Forrest Li and his tech firm Sea, the hot favourites are expected to send a statement to the rest against a side cobbled together at the 11th hour.
"There's always pressure... But we shouldn't shy away from that. We should try to embrace it," Vidmar, 53, told The Straits Times yesterday.
"There's probably going to be a lot more scrutiny on us this season, but we just have to stay relaxed, concentrate on the process and what we've been doing in pre-season."
Tanjong Pagar coach Hairi Su'ap had formed his squad only after the club confirmed their participation in late January, following a five-year long sit-out due to financial woes.
The 46-year-old knows many observers expect his charges to have a difficult reintroduction, saying: "If you talk about expectations, for Sailors they have to not just win, but also play well.
"On our side, people expect us to have a tough time, but I won't give up. It's a competitive game, there are points to collect."
When asked if a scrappy narrow victory would do, former Socceroos midfielder Vidmar said: "I generally don't like ugly, but sometimes you have to accept it.
"The most important thing is we go and try and play the football we want to."
Sailors goalkeeper Hassan Sunny, one of the club's big-name signings in the off-season, said the team were comfortable with the attention.
Said the 35-year-old: "I can understand the hype surrounding us and, when you have a team like ours, people will expect us to go for the title.
"We have been working very hard, everything is going positively, and the fact coach demands a lot of us in games will be good for us.
"He's so passionate in wanting us to win every duel and every game."
Said Vidmar: "I'm very confident that our team are ready. We played seven pre-season games, which is more than enough, but the real stuff starts now."