A win crucial to apply pressure on Albirex

PREVIEW: Tampines Rovers take on Warriors FC in an encounter at Our Tampines hub on Wednesday, 20th September. A win will take us to within 6 points of Albirex, and 10 ahead of Home United. 

Coming off a good win at Toa Payoh yesteday evening, The Stags are in good spirits and look set to continue their good form in September, scoring 10 goals and conceding just the single goal. Warriors might suggest a stiffer opponent, but with Fazrul (Nawaz) back on the scoresheet on Sunday, he is certainly looking sharper and would look to score Tampines the 3 points! 

With the team looking sharper towards the end of the season. 3 points on Wednesday will certainly apply pressure back on league leaders Albirex. With 6 games left to play, it’s all to play for! Who says the title race is over?

Join us as we take on the Warriors this Wednesday at Our Tampines Hub, 20th September, Kick-off 7.30pm.

Tickets will go on sale 5.45PM on Matchday.

Merchandise will also be available from 5.30PM

Fazrul Nawaz and Hafiz Sujad Return

By: Alia Harvey

Great Eastern-Hyundai S.League 2017

Warriors v. Tampines Rovers

22 June (Thursday), 8:30pm, Choa Chu Kang Stadium

Warriors will host us tonight at Choa Chu Kang Stadium, our second last league game this month of June. Fresh from a 3-1 victory over Balestier Khalsa on Saturday, we look to continue our winning streak as we face the Rhinos. With us on 24 points and Warriors with 20, we aim for nothing less than a win to prevent the Rhinos from being just a point behind us.

What’s our form at the moment?
After a 4-1 defeat to current leaders Albirex Niigata, we recovered well with a 3-0 victory over Hougang United before the international break, and resumed with yet another win over Balestier Khalsa.

Our Stags celebrating their 3-0 victory over Hougang United on 25 May.

Our victory on Saturday night brought us up to second place, with eight wins and three losses. Despite missing key players due to injury, we will no doubt be looking to extend our winning run against a strong and experienced Warriors side.

What’s Warriors’s form at the moment?
Having just lost 4-1 to Boeung Ket FC from Cambodia in the RHB Singapore Cup at the end of May, Warriors bounced back and resumed the league after the international break on a high. Shahril Ishak ensured his team walked away with all three points, scoring both goals in their 2-0 victory over Geylang International.

Despite missing key player Jordan Webb for a few games with injury, the Warriors have coped well and proved the depth and experience they have in their team. Jordan is said to be fit again to face us tonight, his club last season.

Past encounters with Warriors?
In our last 21 meetings, both teams are equally dominate with nine wins each. Three of our clashes have been draws. We were undefeated by Warriors last season in the league, but the Warriors ensured this wasn’t the case this year, and won 1-0 back in April. Our most exciting game last season would have to be our 4-2 victory over the Rhinos at Jurong West Stadium on 30 April.

Billy Mehmet opened the account in the 38th minute, before Hafiz Nor equalised just four minutes later. Ridhuan Muhammad’s goal in the 45th minute ensured the Warriors took a 2-1 lead at halftime. However, it wasn’t over for the Stags.

Star player Jermaine Pennant was substituted on for Christopher Van Huizen at halftime, and we saw first choice goalkeeper get a straight red in the 50th minute. Jermaine made an almost immediate impact, easily slotting home a penalty in the 54th minute to level the game.

Yazid receives a straight red card.

It was an even game for 20 minutes, with both sides equally getting chances, before returning Stags man Hafiz Abu Sujad made it 3-2. With a narrow one goal lead, Hafiz sealed the game for us in the 87th minute, scoring yet again, and allowing us to walk off 4-2 winners with all three points.

Hafiz celebrating his second goal in our 4-2 victory over Warriors.

The last time we faced Warriors?
When we faced Warriors back in April, we saw the returns of Ismadi Mukhtar and Madhu Mohana from suspension, but were missing Jamil Ali who had received a red card in our game before against Balestier Khalsa. The game ended 1-0 to the Warriors, with former Stags man Jordan Webb scoring the only goal of the game in the 28th minute, ensuring his new club secured all three points.

Jordan with Warriors for their game against us on 1 April

Team News?
Khairul Amri is still out with injury, and will miss tonight’s game against the Warriors. Madhu Mohana, who badly clashed with Balestier Khalsa player Jonathan Tan on Saturday, will also be out for tonight’s game against his former club.

Madhu will miss tonight’s game against his former club with injury.

However, we will see the return of Shakir Hamzah, who returns from his two-game suspension tonight. After nine months out, we will highly likely also see the return of Fazrul Nawaz tonight, who has been in training with us for nearly a month.

Fazrul with Tampines on 7 April 2016 against Balestier Khalsa.

Another piece of big news, is the return of Hafiz Sujad. Hafiz signed with us for the 2016 season, after the disbandment of LionsXII. We allowed him to leave us, and move to Thailand for to play for BBCU in the Thai League 2. With that club withdrawing from the league with immediate effect back in April, we signed Hafiz again when the S.League transfer window opened.

Hafiz with Tampines on 14 May 2016 against Home United.

During the transfer window, we also signed 23 year old defender Shannon Stephen, and 21 year old midfielder Ehvin Sasidharan.

How’s the S.League table looking?
Following our victory over Balestier Khalsa last Saturday, we moved back up to second place with 24 points. 2016 Champions Albirex Niigata sit comfortably at the top of the table, and remain undefeated, with 31 points. Home United trail us just a point behind at third. This evening’s opponents, Warriors, sit at fourth with 20 points. Geylang International are fifth with 14 points, and Hougang United are sixth with 13. Bottom three Balestier Khalsa, Brunei DPMM, and Garena Young Lions have still yet to make double digits, with six, four, and one points respectively, the same as last week.

Other S.League fixtures this week?
Garena Young Lions v. Balestier Khalsa [22 June, Jalan Besar Stadium]
Albirex Niigata v. Home United [23 June, Jalan Besar Stadium]

Tampines Show Strength in Depth

By Greenrover

In their first game for three weeks and with some key personnel missing yet again, Tampines Rovers were able to post a pleasing 3-1 win against battling Balestier Khalsa last Saturday night.

Two goals within three minutes, late in the first half and a third very early in the second put the game well beyond the reach of the struggling Tigers, who’d fought hard against the Stags in the first meeting between the two sides.

On that occasion Croatian striker, Ivan Dzoni had scored the only goal and this time, after being restored to the starting eleven, he netted the third, to ram home the last nail in the coffin.

An 82nd minute strike by Balestier’s Fadli Kami’s owed as much to a goalkeeper’s error as to the Tigers’ late resurgence in a match that had become well out if their reach by that late stage.

With Khairul Amri recovering from surgery and out for up to three weeks, Dzoni led the line this time with a supporting cast that had Fazli Ayob operating out wide on the right, ahead of Imran Sahib, himself not long back from injury.

As usual Japanese star, Ryutaro Megumi, was proving a real handful for opposition defenders, with his willingness to run at them and often right through them. After looking in control of the game without having a goal to show for it during the first half hour or more, the probing by Megumi, Fazli and co finally paid off in the 38th minute. Dzoni won the ball just inside the Balestier half and sent Megumi on his way towards the left byline. The latter’s low cross, sent over with pace and precision, sat up perfectly at the far post for Fazli to tap in and register his first goal of the current campaign.

As reward for his efforts coach Juergen Raab soon switched the versatile midfielder to a more central role to tighten things up and ensure there was to be no swift Balestier retribution.

Just four minutes later Megumi made the Tigers’ task even more difficult when he went on a long run on the left, before cutting in and sending a real grass-cutter that sizzled past the surprised Tigers’ keeper and captain, Zaiful Nizam, into the bottom right corner of the net.

Missing not only Amri, but incisive right winger Ismadi Mukhtar as well, Tampines lost another key man, national team defender, Madhu Mohana, to a head injury sustained late in the first half, requiring his substitution at half-time. On came Jufri Taha and the change maintained the control the home team had enjoyed during the first period. It took Tampines only four second-half minutes to post a third goal, with Dzoni, who’d done a lot of work off the ball in a somewhat withdrawn role up front, scoring with a crisp shot into the top right corner of the net, having been allowed space to turn twice, close to goal, with the luxury of seeing his first effort blocked, yet falling in his path again. Given a second bite at the cherry from virtually the same spot he made no mistake.

Balestier’s belated reply, an unconvincing Fadli Kami’s header off a left-sided cross from Myanmarese midfielder, Kyaw Zayar Win, found its way into the net after young keeper, Haikal Hasnol, saw the ball slip from his grasp before clearing the line.

Haikal made his S.League debut on the absence of the club’s numbers one and two, the injured duo of Izwan Mahbud and Joey Sim. Haikul, until that late mishap, didn’t let his side down and may be needed again on Thursday when the Stags meet The Warriors at Choa Chu Kang Stadium, kick-off 8.30pm.

That’s going to be an important date in the Tampines’ calendar in many ways. Not only is it vital for the Stags to get the points to solidify second-spot and avenge a 1-0 home loss earlier in the season, but it could well mark the return of some long missing Stags.

Striker Fazrul Nawaz is hoping that he can pass the fitness test ahead of a Thursday return to action after a long injury-enforced lay-off, albeit most likely off the bench.
And current international, Hafiz Sujad, who was marked as not-available on the team sheet, looks set to return after concluding his loan-spell in Thailand. Other names on the team sheet, included long absentee, utility man Shannon Stephen and the suspended Shakir Hamzah, giving coach Juergen renewed optimism ahead of the Warriors’ game.

With so many players unavailable for the Balestier game it was little wonder that the coach was all smiles post-match.

While unhappy with the late goal conceded, the coach felt that his team played well to get the points and put in a strong performance in every other respect.

Maybe there will be no sign of Amri for another week or two and possibly no fast return by Ismadi or Izwan either, but strength in depth has been the key once again and the whole squad can take pride in securing another big result at soon-to-be- vacated temporary headquarters Jurong West Stadium.

Stags Ready To Win Again

By: Alia Harvey

Great Eastern-Hyundai S.League 2017

Tampines Rovers v. Balestier Khalsa

17 June (Saturday), 8:30pm, Jurong West Stadium

We will host Balestier Khalsa tomorrow night at Jurong West Stadium, our second last game at our temporary home ground. Before the international break, we ended on a high in the league against Hougang United by earning a well deserved three points, and are looking to resume the league with a bang.

What’s our form at the moment?

We played our last league game three weeks ago due to the international break, which saw eight of our players called up to the National Team. Our Lions have played against Myanmar, Chinese Taipei, and Argentina, whilst our own Stags played a friendly against Kembangan United, and won 3-1. We have been performing well in the league with seven wins out of our ten games played, but we will find out tomorrow night the current form of our team after this long break.

What’s Balestier Khalsa’s form at the moment?

The Tigers’ first choice goalkeeper, Zaiful Nizam, was the only player called up for the Lions during the international break. Whilst we are unaware of whether they played friendlies during this break, the Tigers have lost eight of their ten games played this season, and are currently on a five-game losing streak in the league. However, this long break has given Balestier the chance to refocus with only Zaiful away, and we look forward to the exciting encounter tomorrow evening.

Current Stags man, Fazli Ayob, for Balestier Khalsa last season.

Past encounters with Balestier Khalsa?
In our last 27 meetings, we are clearly the more dominate side, having won 18 games, and lost five. Four of our clashes have been draws. Last season in the league, we beat the Tigers all three times we faced them. Balestier’s last win against us was on 5 November 2015, a game that saw the Tigers walk out 4-3 winners at Toa Payoh Stadium. Our most exciting encounter with the Tigers would have to be on 15 June 2013 in the League Cup, a game that had to go to penalties after ending 3-3.

Ismadi Mukhtar scored an own goal only two minutes into the game, before Aleksandar Duric made it one-all. Kim Min-Ho took the lead again for Balestier, before Khairul Amri equalised for the Stags. We took the lead and went 3-2 up in the 77th minute when Balestier’s Jaslee Hatta scored an own goal, but Zulkifli Hassim saved his team scoring the equaliser just four minutes later. Balestier ended up winning the game 7-6 on penalties.

We beat the Tigers 3-2 at Jalan Besar Stadium on 17 June 2016, and are looking to grab all three points tomorrow, as we did on the same day last year.

The Stags celebrate their 3-2 victory over the Tigers on 17 June 2016.

The last time we faced Balestier Khalsa?

The last time we faced the Tigers, we missed Ismadi Mukhtar and Madhu Mohana who were still serving their suspensions from the red cards they received against Albirex Niigata, but saw Yasir Hanapi return from his one-game suspension. Through Ivan’s goal in the 50th minute, the game ended 1-0 to us. The clash also saw Jamil Ali receive a red card against his former team in the 90th minute.

What has the head coach said ahead of tomorrow night’s clash?
Juergen Raab: It is not easy for us because after this long break, where eight players were not with us, it’s been a long time now. We had only three, maybe two, days to come together and prepare for this match, and it’s not so easy. I hope we can manage this. We know Balestier is a team that is not easy to play as they have good spirit and attitude, and it’s normal that we want to win this match.

Ivan Dzoni gave the Stags all three points in our 1-0 victory over the Tigers on 11 March 2017.

Team News?

Four of our eight players who were called up to the National Team for international duty will miss tomorrow night’s game. Izwan Mahbud is out with a hamstring injury, whilst Khairul Amri is recovering. Yasir Hanapi, who we’d hope would play his last game with us tomorrow before leaving for PDRM FA, is unfortunately out as well with injury. After receiving a straight red against Albirex Niigata, Shakir Hamzah will miss tomorrow night’s game against the Tigers through suspension. Daniel Bennett, Madhu Mohana, Fahrudin Mustafic, and Shahdan Sulaiman are fit to play tomorrow night.

Joey Sim is currently injured, meaning both our first and second choice keepers will miss this clash against the Tigers. Third choice Haikal Hasnol, who has been featuring regularly for our U21s in the Prime League, will likely make his debut for the first team tomorrow evening. Fazrul Nawaz is back in training and recovering, but is not registered for the league. On Balestier’s side, Huzaifah Aziz and Sheikh Abdul Hadi are suspended tomorrow night.

How’s the S.League table looking?
As we return to league action, Albirex Niigata sit top of the table with 28 points with nine wins and one draw, making them the only team that has yet to be defeated this season. Home United are second with 23 points, whilst we trail them on third with 21 points. The Dragons and us are tied with an equal number of seven wins each this season. Warriors and Brunei DPMM still have a game in hand, whilst the other clubs have played ten matches so far this season. Warriors sit fourth with 17 points, with Geylang International not far behind at fifth with 14 points, and Hougang United just a point behind the Eagles at sixth. Bottom three Balestier Khalsa, Brunei DPMM, and Garena Young Lions have yet to make double digits, with six, four, and one point respectively.

Other S.League fixtures this week?
Geylang International v. Warriors [16 June, Jalan Besar]
Albirex Niigata v. Brunei DPMM [16 June, Jurong East]

U17s Show Grit And Determination

By: Alia Harvey

Yesterday evening, 14 June, our U17s played ITE East, our third pre-season game for 2017.

The strong ITE side, which has boys playing in the Prime League, with regular call-ups to the S.League, defeated our boys 3-1 in the friendly. The ITE team has been playing friendlies with the U17 teams from different clubs, and have remained undefeated.

Going down 2-0 at halftime, U17 head coach Sugunan gave the boys a very motivational talk to spur the boys on. It proved to have an impact when we pulled one back just five minutes into the second half. Our U17s refused to give up, and were continuously pushing themselves till the final whistle.

ITE East, and former Gombak United and Woodlands Wellington S.League head coach, Shasi Kumar, said of our U17s after the game, “I think the team is raw. They need good guidance, and that can come from a good coach like Sugunan. They need more games to improve.”

U17 head coach Sugunan Perianan was, “It was a match where I tried different ideas, and allowed the boys to be more confident to express their talent on the pitch. My plan today was to teach the boys the right mentality to develop as both a player, and as a team. Winning and losing are part and parcel of sports. The attitude and hunger to be better after each game is what I’m looking for in a young player.”

Our U17s will kickoff their 2017 COE League season on 27 June at Jurong East Stadium against Warriors.

Stags Impress Against Argentina

By: Alia Harvey

We saw the international break come to an end yesterday evening, when Singapore took on world number two, Argentina. Although the game ended 6-0, four of our Stags — Shakir Hamzah, Daniel Bennett, Izwan Mahbud, and Fahrudin Mustafic, featured against one of the powerhouses of world football, with the likes of Angel Di’Maria, Paulo Dybala, Sergio Romero, and Mauro Icardi.

Shakir Hamzah and Daniel Bennett were named in the starting line-up, with both in their usual positions of left-back and centre-back respectively. With Paris Saint-Germain’s Angel Di’Maria playing on the wing, Shakir was handed the task of dealing with the star, and no doubt did a fantastic job. Di’Maria did find room to cross the ball into the box, but not once was he able to get past our very own Shakir. Di’Maria continuously tried to do so, but just couldn’t seem to find a way, and eventually switched wings.

Shakir unfortunately had to come off in the 67th minute with an injury, for Geylang International’s Safirul Sulaiman. Daniel Bennett on the other hand played the full 90 minutes, and was solid throughout. His experience and expertise was on clear display as he handled every situation calmly. He put a halt to the many times Argentina attempted to attack, and was constantly clearing the ball away from danger.

Five minutes into the second half, Home United’s Hassan Sunny, after physio Hafizah Sujad had come on to provide treatment, asked to be substituted with injury. The Stags’ first choice goalkeeper Izwan Mahbud came on as the replacement for Hassan. He took only one goal kick with his right foot and switched to his left, before Daniel Bennett had to come back and take the goal kicks for the Lions.

Singapore’s head coach V. Sundram Moorthy said of Izwan in the press conference, “When he went in, he took the first goal kick with his right leg, that’s where he pulled his muscle. It can happen in the first minute when you go in, or it can happen in the 90th minute, but unfortunately for us it happened in the first minute.”

Fahrudin Mustafic was the last Stag to come on for the Lions, in the 58th minute, to replace Home United’s Irfan Fandi who was stretchered-off. Being regular starters with the Stags, Shakir, Daniel, and Fahrudin were able to communicate well on the pitch.

Despite the heavy defeat, it was a great opportunity and experience for all four of our Stags who featured in yesterday evening’s match to play against some of the world’s best, but we now turn our focus back to the S.League. With the two weeks of international break now over, we will face Balestier Khalsa this Saturday at Jurong West Stadium, where kickoff is 8:30pm.

Come down and support our Stags as we continue to fight for the title!

Another Fight to the Finish

By Greenrover

They may have been beaten 2-1 by the strong Geylang International Prime League side at Clementi Stadium on Wednesday night, but an understrength Tampines Rovers’ Under-21 side could hold their heads high after a magnificent second-half which came after a sluggish start and two goals conceded to the Eagles in the opening 20 minutes.

The game was originally scheduled for the following night at Geylang’s temporary Prime League home, Woodlands Stadium, after their Bedok Stadium home was closed for the remainder of the season for much-needed athletics’ track repairs.

Tampines Rovers, beaten 2-0 in a bruising game against the NFA Under-18s four days earlier, which saw Syed Haziq stretchered off and ruled out of this game, having already been without influential midfielder, Zulfadhmi Suzliman, injured himself in the match before, lost 1-0 to an unfortunate own goal against Hougang United.

Here, and with Khairul Nizam also limited to a cameo role off the bench, similarly injury-inflicted, the weakened Stags’ side began the game with some uncertainty as Geylang rattled in their first goal after only 13 minutes and a second just six minutes later.

Thoughts turned to a potentially heavy defeat for the young Tampines’ team, but Dilwant Singh’s boys are made of sterner stuff.

Undaunted by the early setbacks the Stags showed that despite their missing team-mates, those left, well-led by American striker, Diego Silvas and the hard running of fellow front-runners, Faizal Raffi, fought back immediately to get on the scoreboard themselves only five minutes after going two down.

Sheikh Ibrahim made a withering run down the right and sent over a firm cross with Geylang defenders struggling to ward off the predatory Silvas and Faizal, who charged through the middle in support of their speedy winger.

In a goalmouth tussle Geylang defender, Sadiq Rahim, won the race to the ball, only to turn it into his own net, under pressure from the late-arriving Tampines’ pair.

The momentum gained from that goal carried forward into the second half which saw Diego Silvas smash a free-kick against the crossbar in the 55th minute.

With that close-call Geylang thought their counter-attack in the 67th minute might have led to a third goal, after referee Muhammad Syahir spotted a handball infringement inside the penalty-area. Tampines’ protests went unheeded, naturally, so it was up to keeper, Haikal Hasnol, to try and thwart the Eagles’ penalty-kick taker, Asshukrie Wahid.

Haikal was able to make the save by guessing correctly and diving to his right to push away the ball, struck low towards the bottom corner of the net.

It still looked as if Ifwat Ismail’s 13th minute header and Min Thi Ha’s 19th minute tap-in could yet lead to further goals by the fluent Geylang side.

But Tampines were having none of it and continued to take the game to their opponents.

Diego Silvas went close a couple of times from open play, following his earlier free-kick hitting the bar and the Tampines attack limited Geylang to the occasional counter-attack.

The Geylang keeper, Muhammad Nur Amin, had to be at the top of his game in the 79th minute as he was nearly brought undone by a magnificent Diego Silvas free-kick from distance, that looked to dip late under the crossbar, but the keeper just leapt in time to tip the effort over.

On one remaining raid, in the 83rd minute, Geylang’s opening goalscorer, Ifwat, ran onto a pass from Ashraf Razali, only for Haikal to pull off another big save to deny the Eagles’ man.

It had been a big fighting effort by Tampines who were thin in their ranks, with coach Dilwant happy to persevere with his starting eleven right up until the 86th minute when Haiqal Sulaiman, who’d suffered a knock, made way for Khairul Nizam, clearly far from 100 per cent himself.

The players remained on the field for at least 20 minutes, after the final whistle, to reflect on their sterling efforts along with a thoroughly-satisfied coaching contingent.

8 Stags Called Up For National Team Duty

By: Alia Harvey

We are pleased to announce that eight of our Stags — Izwan Mahbud, Daniel Bennett, Madhu Mohana, Shakir Hamzah, Fahrudin Mustafic, Yasir Hanapi, Shahdan Sulaiman, and Khairul Amri have been called up to the 27-man National Team squad this international break, the most compared to any other local club.

All the above-mentioned players were called up for the last international break, except for Shahdan who was recovering from injury, but is now back in the Singapore squad.

The Lions will play a closed door friendly against Myanmar tonight, 6 June, before facing Chinese Taipei this coming Saturday, 10 June, at Jalan Besar Stadium for the AFC Asian Cup UAE 2019 Qualifier. In celebration of 125 years of the Football Association of Singapore (FAS), the oldest football association in Southeast Asia, the Lions will then play the Argentinian National Team on 13 June, Tuesday, at the Singapore National Stadium.

All our Stags have been performing exceptionally well for club, and there is no doubt that they will do the same for country. With a total of 492 appearances and 48 goals combined for the Lions, we wish them all the best this international break.