Category: Match Preview

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

Tampines Rovers arrive in Manila ahead of ACL showdown vs. Global FC

Tampines Rovers have settled at their Manila base ahead of Tuesday’s crucial 2017 AFC Champions League preliminary round playoff against Global FC.

The Stags, who arrived in the Philippines on Sunday, will look to move one step closer to a meeting with Shanghai Shenhua and Carlos Tevez.

Already assured of a place in the 2017 AFC Cup — Asia’s second-tier club competition — the Stags will need to beat Global, and Australian side Brisbane Roar before a showdown with big-spending Shanghai Shenhua to book their spot in Group E.

Tampines are staying at the New World Hotel at Manila Bay, and will have their second training session on Monday night at Rizal Memorial Stadium.

Last season, they made the quarterfinals of the AFC Cup before losing to eventual finalists Bengaluru FC, of India.

A preseason tour to Malaysia saw them draw 2-2 with second division outfit Terengganu last weekend, which was followed by a narrow 2-1 defeat to the state’s top tier club T-Team on Monday.

Tampines have undergone an upheaval since the end of last season, with none of their foreign trio of Jermaine Pennant, Billy Mehmet and Jordan Webb extending their stay at the Jurong West Stadium.

Nonetheless, coach Akbar Nawas appears to have replaced them adequately. Croatian striker Ivan Dzoni and Japanese winger Ryutaro Megumi both found the net in their previous two friendlies to give a good early impression at the club.

Tampines’ other new import is South Korean utility Son Yong-chan, who will be no stranger to Global, having spent the past few years playing against them in the United Football League for Ceres-Negros.

The Stags may have also lost Singapore international Hafiz Abu Sujad to Thai second-tier outfit BBCU. But their prospects of success in 2017 will be bolstered by the arrivals of established Singapore internationals such as Khairul Amri, Madhu Mohana and Daniel Bennett.

While Global will be enjoying home advantage on Tuesday, the Stags are far more experienced on the continental stage, and will start the game as slight favourites.

Still, Tampines will be aware they can ill afford complacency against opponents who boast a plethora of Philippines internationals, including forward Misagh Bahadoran, centre-back Amani Aguinaldo and midfielder Paul Mulders.

“Firstly, we will have to focus on the game against Global FC,” Akbar told ESPN FC.

“Even if we do beat them, we will then face another strong team in Brisbane Roar, followed by one of the best sides from China [Shanghai Shenhua].

“We will definitely be going into every game looking to compete and we’ll just think about taking it step by step.”

Elimination at any stage of the Champions League qualifiers will see Tampines immediately enter the AFC Cup, where they have been drawn alongside Vietnamese giants Ha Noi, Malaysia Super League side Felda United and Philippines’ Ceres-Negros, in Group G.



Who are Global? Why Tampines’s AFC Champions League preliminary round opponents will be no pushover for the Stags

The team started in the 2010 United Football League, which they won and remained undefeated over the entire season. Their victories led to promotion into Division I for the first time. In 2012, Global captured their first Division I title on goal difference. Their victory meant that they automatically qualified for the 2013 AFC President’s Cup, making them the first Filipino club to do so. However, they were eliminated in the group stages. They also played in the United Football League Cup, which they have won once (in 2010). Global has also won the National Men’s Club Championship once (in 2011).
Global was invited to play in the 2013 Singapore Cup as a guest club, together with fellow UFL side
Loyola Meralco Sparks. As a result, they became the second Philippine club to reach the semifinals
of the tournament. However, Global lose to Tanjong Pagar United.
Four clubs have been crowned UFL league champions. The last Champions were Global, which won their third title and a record!
In the Quarter-Finals of RHB Singapore Cup 2016, Global lost to Tampines in two legged Quarter-
Finals with aggregate 5-2. Those results were a long time ago between two teams who will likely be different come January.

History counts for nothing for Tampines

The Stags and Global are pitted against each other in the first of a three-step Asian Football Confederation (AFC) Champions League qualifier.

The winners of the Jan 24 fixture in the Philippines will face the A-League’s Brisbane Roar in stage two, with Chinese Super League side Shanghai Shenhua standing between the winners and a spot in the ACL main draw.

Stags coach Akbar Nawas recalls the pair of victories over Global, but he believes both his Stags and Global will look distinctly different next month.

“Those results were a long time ago between two teams who will likely look very different come January,” he told The New Paper yesterday.

The Stages have yet to confirm their final squad, but will certainly have to do without former Liverpool and Arsenal winger Jermaine Pennant, Canadian Jordan Webb, as well as forward Billy Mehmet who was responsible for two goals in the Singapore Cup wins over Global.

“We are still finalising our squad, but it will look very different from the one last season,” said Akbar, who led Tampines to the quarter-finals of the AFC Cup earlier this year.

“As of now, we have five Singapore national players (Izwan Mahbud, Shakir Hamzah, Shahdan Sulaiman, Hafiz Abu Sujad and Yasir Hanapi) and that pool provides a good base for us to work on.”

The AFC Cup is the second- tier regional tournament behind the ACL.

In January this year, Tampines fell 3-1 to Indian side Mohun Bagan in the ACL play-offs, before dropping into the AFC Cup group stages.

There are few who give Tampines any chance of fighting their way into the ACL main draw this season, but Akbar is hardly perturbed.

“We believe we can beat Global but, realistically speaking, it will be difficult to beat teams like Brisbane and Shanghai. That doesn’t mean that we will go into those games – if we do get there – expecting defeat,” he said.

“We will compete and, in any case, we’re always looking to get a good result in any game that we play in.”

Tampines will drop into the AFC Cup group stages if they fail to make it into the ACL, and the ACL and AFC Cup draw in Kuala Lumpur yesterday gave them a preview of who they will face should it come to that.

The Stags have a provisional spot in Group G, alongside Ceres of the Philippines, Malaysia’s Felda United and Vietnamese side Ha Noi T&T, but Akbar is not looking that far, preferring to keep their focus on the drive for an ACL spot.


Tampines out to salvage season

It has been an eventful year for Tampines Rovers, to say the least.
While it has not exactly panned out the way they would have hoped for, the local football giants have a wonderful opportunity to end the season on a high when they play Albirex Niigata in tonight’s RHB Singapore Cup final at the Jalan Besar Stadium.

Much was expected from the team following the assembly of a star-studded squad, headlined by former Arsenal and Liverpool winger Jermaine Pennant, along with 15 past and present Singapore internationals, including goalkeeper Izwan Mahbud, defender Fahrudin Mustafic and striker Fazrul Nawaz.

But, midway through the season, they were forced into a managerial change when V Sundramoorthy took over the Singapore vacancy and was replaced by Akbar Nawas.

Then recently, the club hogged the headlines after news broke that a readjustment of their finances for next season would see top players’ salaries restricted to just $2,500 a month, possibly resulting in a mass exodus of their big names.

Given all that has happened, the fact that they still have a chance to win silverware is something the Stags will not be taking lightly.

“This is probably the last time we’re all together as a team so we’re really pumped up,” said Akbar yesterday.

“From playing Albirex a few times this season already, both teams know how each other will shape up and, for us, it’s a good stage to give a good account of ourselves.

“I believe the hungrier of the two teams will nick it.”


Amid all the drama, little attention has been paid to the fact that Akbar, in his debut season as a senior coach, has performed admirably since taking over the reins.

In his 22 games at the helm before tonight’s final, he has guided the Stags to 15 wins, with the team playing a brand of adventurous and entertaining football as they racked up 50 goals, en route to finishing second in the Great Eastern-Yeo’s S.League, just one point behind Albirex.

Akbar, who is likely to continue to pull the strings at Tampines next season, is grateful for the experience.

“This six months of experience I’ve gained, with no disrespect to the other teams, would have taken me five years to achieve at any other club,” he said, as he looks to stop the Japanese club from an unprecedented sweep of all trophies.

After collecting the Community Shield in the season’s curtain-raiser, the league champions went on to win The New Paper League Cup.

“Taking over halfway through the season with this bunch of international stars like Jermaine has helped me learn so much,” said Akbar.

“We tried to play the style we wanted to play and we scored 30 goals in 12 league games… I think that says something.

“I don’t think I would see my spell as being a success purely based on whether we win the Singapore Cup.

“Even for Tampines, I think it’s been a good season, but winning the cup would be icing on the cake.”

One man with plenty of experience winning silverware is goalkeeper Izwan, who was in the LionsXII side that won the Malaysia Super League (2013) and FA Cup (2015). He was also the Singapore No. 1 when the Lions won the AFF Suzuki Cup in 2012.

Asked if the hunger to win ever diminishes, Izwan replied, with a cheeky grin: “It never gets boring winning… Even players like Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi want to win as many trophies as they can.

“Albirex are a good team and I think it’s going to be a good, exciting game between two teams that like to play football, so let’s see who turns up.”

“This six months of experience I’ve gained, with no disrespect to the other teams, would have taken me five years to achieve at any other club.”

– Tampines coach Akbar Nawas.

Chastened Albirex vow to bounce back
There is so much up for grabs for Albirex Niigata when they take on Tampines Rovers in the RHB Singapore Cup final at the Jalan Besar Stadium tonight.

Revenge is on the cards after a recent drubbing at the hands of Tampines, a second RHB Singapore Cup final win in the club’s 13-year existence is 90 minutes away and, perhaps most importantly, they have history within their grasp.

Victory over Tampines will see Albirex become the first club in the history of Singapore football to complete the clean sweep of the Great Eastern-Yeo’s S.League, Singapore Cup, The New Paper League Cup and Community Shield.

Given their dominance in 2016, the White Swans will enter the Cup final as favourites against a Tampines side who finished second to them in the league.

Chastened Albirex vow to bounce back
There is so much up for grabs for Albirex Niigata when they take on Tampines Rovers in the RHB Singapore Cup final at the Jalan Besar Stadium tonight.

Revenge is on the cards after a recent drubbing at the hands of Tampines, a second RHB Singapore Cup final win in the club’s 13-year existence is 90 minutes away and, perhaps most importantly, they have history within their grasp.

Victory over Tampines will see Albirex become the first club in the history of Singapore football to complete the clean sweep of the Great Eastern-Yeo’s S.League, Singapore Cup, The New Paper League Cup and Community Shield.

Given their dominance in 2016, the White Swans will enter the Cup final as favourites against a Tampines side who finished second to them in the league.

“Being the last game of the season, it should serve as a representation of all that we have achieved this year.” – Albirex coach Naoki Naruo
Following what has already been a successful first year back in Singapore after his initial spell in charge in 2009, Albirex coach Naoki Naruo has warned his charges against complacency as the Japanese club look to end the season on a high.

“Of course, we have no shortage of motivation to win,” Naruo said, at yesterday’s pre-final press conference, while seated next to opposite number Akbar Nawas.

“Obviously, there is (a fourth trophy) up for grabs. But, being the last game of the season, it should serve as a representation of all that we have achieved this year.”

In four meetings in 2016, both sides have won two games each and their most recent meeting, on Wednesday, saw Tampines claim a resounding 5-1 victory on the final day of the S.League campaign.


While the match was of little consequence, the White Swans did field a team consisting of regular first-team players like centre back Kento Fujihara, playmaker Kento Nagasaki and dynamic midfielder Masaya Jitozono.

Considering they have lost both their games since sealing the league title – the other loss was a 3-1 defeat by Home United – the White Swans may have taken their foot off the pedal at the wrong time.

“That game (the 5-1 loss to Tampines) was a pretty damaging loss, but there’s nothing we can do but accept the result,” admitted Naruo.

“We’ve since returned to training and addressed the areas that need to be addressed.

“I am confident we can improve on our previous performance and we will do our best to beat Tampines.”

While the stakes are high, there has been little tension between the two camps during the build-up to the Cup final and it is clear both parties hold each other in high regard.

Tampines coach Akbar dismissed suggestions they were under more pressure because they are flying the flag for local clubs, instead praising Albirex for their exciting football.

Echoing those sentiments, Stags goalkeeper Izwan Mahbud hailed Albirex’s quality and claimed they should be regarded as a local club after 13 years in the S.League.

While there will be much attacking talent on display, both sides could well kick off with a conservative approach, especially if Naruo’s premonition is correct.

“I think the first goal will decide the game,” he said. “Whichever team score first… that will be very important.”


Tampines Rovers vs Brunei DPMM: Crunch time for the Stags

The equation is simple for Tampines Rovers when they take to the pitch on Saturday evening to face Brunei DPMM: they have to win to stay in the title race.
As such, the pressure is all on the Stags, but they can only blame themselves for falling into such a predicament.
Tampines’ back-to-back league defeats to Hougang United and Home United means Albirex Niigata (S) now have a seven-point lead at the top of the table with just four matches to go. That gap could well be extended to double digits, should the White Swans win their clash against Warriors FC on Friday.
The only hope Tampines Rovers have now is to win all their remaining league matches of the season, starting against DPMM, while hoping the White Swans drop points along the way until the final day of the season, when both title contenders face each other.
Thankfully recent form suggests the Stags have the upperhand in this clash. In 12 league meetings since 2012, the Bruneians have emerged triumphant just once, which came in May last year, the year they won the league title.
Apart from that, it is only in cup matches that DPMM have tasted success against Tampines.

Still, DPMM will come into the game riding a six-game unbeaten run, which is the best they have managed all season. On the other hand, Tampines look like they are suffering from a burn-out, having played a total of 39 games already in all competitions this year. In comparison, DPMM have only faced 29 games so far.
It will be interesting to see if Tampines can cope with both the pressure and fatigue on Saturday.

Both Billy Mehmet and Hafiz Sujad are suspended for the match against Brunei DPMM and the duo, who have been immaculate for the Stags this season, will be big losses.
On the other hand, DPMM’s Maududi Hilmi and Rosmin Kamis will be missing through suspension. It is also unclear if Paulo Sergio will return after he sat out the game against the Young Lions on Monday.

Scoring goals hasn’t been an issue for Tampines Rovers this year. Instead, it is keeping them out at their own end that has been a problem. In their last eight matches, they have only kept a clean sheet once.
Against DPMM, they will come up against Rafael Ramazotti, a player who has scored five times in eight matches against the Stags since joining the Wasps in 2015.
With so much at stake on Saturday they will need to keep Ramazotti quiet and the task is likely to fall to Tampines captain Mustafic. Commanding in the air and possessing a fine reading of the game, Mustafic will be well-equipped to deal with the Brazilian targetman.

By all accounts, Akbar Nawas has done a decent job with the Stags this year. For a rookie coach to come in halfway through the season and guide Tampines to the Singapore Cup final, the AFC Cup quarter-finals and stay in the hunt for the S.League title is certainly commendable.
But as the saying goes only winners will be remembered in history, so it will all be for naught if Akbar fails to guide Tampines to a trophy this year.
On the other hand, Steve Kean will be keen to spoil the title race for Tampines. After all, the Stags have won both meetings in the league between them this season, and Kean will be looking to avoid a hattrick of defeats to the same team.


Tampines Rovers vs Bengaluru: Stag history still within reach

Tampines enter this AFC Cup quarter-final return leg trailing 1-0 to the Indian champions after Bengaluru upset the odds to clinch a slender but precious advantage over the Stags.
The first leg was nearly called off due to crowd unrest in Bangalore, but an agreement to play the match behind closed doors allowed the game to continue, albeit at an earlier time.
At that point, almost everyone had backed Tampines to comfortably stroll to victory over a side that was robbed of its home fans’ support and was playing its first competitive fixture of the season. In addition, Bengaluru were reeling from the departure of fan-favourite manager Ashley Westwood as well as some key players.
But the 1-0 score in Bengaluru’s favour proved that at this stage of the competition, nothing can be taken for granted in the AFC Cup.
In the return leg, Tampines will be hoping that their homeground advantage can help them attain the result needed to progress to the competition’s semi-final for the first time in their history.
However, they will need to be very cautious going into this game. Having to overturn a one-goal deficit means that Tampines have to take the initiative.

Yet, this could lead to them opening up at the back and run the risk of conceding an away goal. In the event the aggregate score was level, Bengaluru will be able to go through on the away goal rule as the Stags failed to score back in India.

Fazrul Nawaz and Shahdan Sulaiman continue to be the long-term absentees and they might be joined by captain Mustafic Fahrudin on the treatment table, after he picked up an injury in India.
However, his place could be taken by the equally-capable Fabian Kwok.
Tampines do need goals but they did not call upon Sufian Anuar from the bench against Bengaluru after going behind, so it will be no surprise if coach Akbar Nawas opts against starting the former LionsXII striker again.
Bengaluru have not reported any major injuries and those who started against Tampines in the first leg are expected to feature heavily once again.

It is a pretty simple equation for the Stags now. They have to score by hook or crook, or crash out of the AFC Cup.
Billy Mehmet did not have the best of games against Bengaluru a week ago, but he was one of the most hard working players on the pitch and he will be hoping it pays off for him on Wednesday evening.
Once again, the Stags will have to overcome goalkeeper Amrinder Singh. The custodian was rarely tested in the first leg, but still did well when called upon.
His bravery in coming out for challengers will serve him well in his aerial battle with Mehmet, as the latter is a really good header of the ball.

Things simply did not work for Akbar in the first half of the first leg last week and he will be looking to avoid a repeat of that performance.
Tampines did improve after the break and became more threatening going forward, so whatever the coach tried then, he will be looking to do the same in the return leg.
Bengaluru coach Albert Roca believes his side fully deserved their win at Bengaluru but he urged caution for the return fixture.
So one can assume he will be instructing his side to take its time with possession and not needlessly pour forward and leave gaps in the defence.



Jermaine Pennant is key man for Tampines Rovers in AFC Cup QF

“Big game player” Jermaine Pennant is emerging as Tampines Rovers’ key man as the Singapore club take a trip into the unknown in the AFC Cup quarterfinals on Wednesday night.

With the former Liverpool winger expected to be given a free role, the Stags are away to a Bengaluru FC side who have changed coaches, and several players, since they were last in action in the competition in May.

Former Barcelona assistant boss Albert Roca has taken over from Ashley Westwood as head coach, with the new I-League season due to begin in January.

“With the Indian league season not started yet, we are not sure what to expect from Bengaluru, and that could be a good or bad thing,” Tampines boss Akbar Nawas told ESPN FC.

“But under their new coach, they will still have a good, sound and organised team, and will present a big challenge for us, away from home.”

Tampines are smarting from last Saturday’s 1-0 defeat to Home United that dealt their S.League hopes a serious blow. Akbar predicted a strong reaction from his players, who were below par at Bedok Stadium.

“The mood was that everyone was very disappointed, especially with the number of chances that we didn’t convert,” he said. “But we’ve got to take it as a positive to produce a better performance in the AFC Cup.”

Former Perth Glory striker Billy Mehmet was suspended for the Home United game, but will be back to face Bengaluru. Captain Fahrudin Mustafic, who was used as an emergency striker, is expected to resume a more familiar position in central defence.

Midfielder Fabien Kwok, who’s been sidelined with an ACL strain for the past month, could return to the squad, adding to a strong bench.

Pennant, 33, has produced some of his best Tampines form in the AFC Cup, and Akbar said he expected the England U21 star to rise to the occasion.


“Jermaine is a big game player, and when it comes to the crunch, he will always turn up,” Akbar said.

Akbar added that he would be delighted if Tampines were able to emerge from the Sree Kanteerava Stadium with a score draw.

“We really have to be tactically smart, and balance it out, especially in the first 15 minutes,” he said. “I’ve got to prepare my players properly, motivate them so they can be as eager yet cam as possible. We would definitely take a 1-1 draw.”

In the Round of 16 on May 24, Tampines defeated India’s Mohun Bagan 2-1, after extra-time, with the winning goal coming from Afiq Yunos in the 116th minute at the Indira Gandhi Athletic Stadium in Guwahati.


Photos: Tampines trained at hotel compound after riots strike Bangalore

The Stags training session scheduled for the afternoon of their arrival had to be abandoned due to a Bollywood-tinged drama on Bengaluru streets. Bengaluru club officials advised against holding the training at their astro-turf stadium, even as the team bus was pulling into the stadium. Instead, the squad returned to their hotel and coach Akbar held an improvised session in the hotel carpark, to the delight of hotel staff.

Stags trained in the hotel carpark due to the riots in Bengaluru.

Picture 1 of 5

Photo: Chris Harvey




2016 AFC CUP: Tampines road to the quarter-finals

Kuala Lumpur: With this season’s AFC Cup quarter-final action set to start next week, join as we take a look at the eight teams who will be vying for a place in the last four.
AFC Cup Format
The tournament is still divided into two zones, meaning the West quarter-finals will pit Air Force Club (Iraq), Al Ahed (Lebanon), Al Jaish (Syria) and Al Muharraq (Bahrain) against one another, while Johor Darul Ta’zim (Malaysia), JSW Bengaluru (India), South China (Hong Kong) and Tampines Rovers (Singapore) will lock horns in the East.

Draw Result
Quarter-final 1 West: Air Force Club v Al Jaish
Quarter-final 2 West: Al Ahed v Al Muharraq
Quarter-final 3 East: South China v Johor Darul Ta’zim
Quarter-final 4 East: JSW Bengaluru v Tampines Rovers

AFC Cup 2016 Knockout Stage Match Schedule
September 13, 2016
Quarter-final 1 West (1st Leg)
Quarter-final 3 East (1st Leg)
September 14, 2016
Quarter-final 2 West (1st Leg)
Quarter-final 4 East (1st Leg)
September 20, 2016
Quarter-final 1 West (2nd Leg)
Quarter-final 3 East (2nd Leg)
September 21, 2016
Quarter-final 2 West (2nd Leg)
Quarter-final 4 East (2nd Leg)

After a three-year wait, Singapore finally had one of its representatives reach the knockout round of the AFC Cup once again courtesy of Tampines Rovers’ excellent run.

They started strongly with triumphs over Lt. Sheikh Jamal Dhanmondi Club Ltd and Selangor FA and, after a blip of a three-match winless run, defeated the Red Giants again by a 1-0 scoreline at the National Stadium to seal a top-two finish in Group E.

On to the Round of 16 and things were not looking good for the Stags against Mohun Bagan as the tie went into extra-time with the score tied at 1-1 and they a man down, but Afiq Yunos emerged as the hero as he swept home a 116th-minute winner to book their place in the quarter-finals.


Photo: Lagardère Sports