Category: News & Features

Sea Wolves Wish Us The Best Versus Ceres

Our AFC Cup Squad player Raspreet Sandhu was at Sonoma State University Athletics between 2011 and 2015. Their squad are currently in spring training. The season starts in August and finishes with playoffs in December. During the training, the players must maintain their grades in school.

Our scarf has made it all the way to America, and we see the Sea Wolves’ coach, Marcus Ziemer, proudly holding it up in honour of his former, and our current, player Raspreet.

Raspreet’s former team wishes us all the best for our final AFC Cup group stage game against Ceres next Wednesday, 3rd May, at Jalan Besar Stadium. Come down and support our Stags as it’s going to be an exciting game indeed. Why? If we beat Ceres, and Felda beats Hanoi, we will top our group and qualify for the next round.

Juergen Raab: We Have Worked Very, Very Hard

On Sunday night, 23 April, we defeated Garena Young Lions 1-0 at Jurong West Stadium.

Click here to read the club’s article and see photos from the our victory.

Hear what both head coaches, Juergen Raab and V. Selvaraj, had to say in the post-match press conference.

Stags Upset Young Lions

By Greenrover

Last season the injury-prone Khairul Amri was with Garena Young Lions, being one of the young players’ mentors and a key striker when fit to play, or when not needed for the national team.

A year later and he’s still an uncertain starter in many matches, this one at Jurong West Stadium being no exception, having helped his more familiar Tampines Rovers out with two vital goals in midweek in the Stags’ impressive 3-1 win in Pahang against Felda in the club’s penultimate AFC Cup Group stage match.

Neither Amri nor his fellow-scorer in Malaysia, Ivan Dzoni, started the game against the Singapore Under-22 team, who are preparing, as always, for the upcoming SEA Games.

Perhaps taking a leaf out of successful Chelsea boss Antonio Conte’s book, Tampines coach, Juergen Raab, left his two main scorers out of the starting line-up, despite their precious goal contributions four days earlier; but to be fair his reasons for doing so were totally different from his Chelsea counterpart.

While Chelsea left it late to bring on their main men Eden Hazard and Diego Costa as a shock tactic, which paid off handsomely midway through the second half, with both players making the most of their abbreviated time on the field, in Amri’s case he left it until the very last moment to salvage a valuable win for his team.

Amri emerged from the bench in the 58th minute, as midfielder, Fazli Ayob, made way, after trying to help his side overcome a hard-running and hard-pressing Garena Young Lions.

Ivan Dzoni also made his way off the bench, though he was not introduced until the 83rd minute, so for the best part of an hour the team had operated without a single striker and only a double spearhead was in place for the final seven minutes or so.

Once those two got out there, however, a visibly tiring Garena Young Lions were struggling to contain the home side, having been the more dominant themselves for much of the game.

It was not the Tampines players, recovering from the exertions of a midweek match at a high level, who were finding the going tough, but the far-younger players in the upcoming SEA Games squad, who had a large number of fresh boys to choose from and even introduced Ikhsan Fandi, who’s seldom been available to them during his National Service, as a potential match winner in the 65th minute.

The move, probably in response to Juergen Raab’s unleashing of Amri, could well have paid off, as Ikhsan certainly looked the part, adding height and physical presence, as his proud father Fandi Ahmad looked on from the stands.

But the breakthrough never came for the Garena Young Lions, as their relentless running and industry failed to yield a single goal, despite several clear-cut chances presenting themselves.

A match that had been a big struggle for Tampines in attempting to overcome their far-younger opponents looked certain to end scoreless, with both teams seemingly drained of energy and ideas as time ticked away.

But, as numerous youngsters on the Young Lions side succumbed to cramp and other minor injuries, coach V. Selvaraj began to run out of options, having already cleared his bench, while Tampines persisted, even as stoppage-time loomed and a stalemate looked inevitable.

Cometh the hour and cometh the man and as has been so often the case, it was that man Khairul Amri who delivered the goods.

He’d been a great asset to the Garena Young Lions, whenever available last season, but here he was to prove their nemesis.

Three of the four added minutes had already elapsed, with a few counter-attacks from a mostly exhausted Young Lions breaking the pattern of constant, late, Tampines Rovers attacks, when Shakir Hamzah got to the left byline, as the young players probably thought they’d earned a point already and failed to pick up Amri as he motored to the near post to deliver the killer blow that saved the day for Tampines and earned a precious 1-0 win.

Amri had hardly inspired confidence during his time on the pitch to that stage, picking up a caution near half-way for what many might consider an unnecessary foul and otherwise offering rare glimpses of his renowned lethal finishing.

His celebratory removal of his shirt, after scoring, meant that referee Jansen Foo was obliged to hand him a second caution and a red card to banish him from the field of play for the seconds that remained.

More importantly, however, Amri will be suspended for the coming match in Brunei against DPMM on Friday night.

As for Dzoni, he had less time to show his capabilities, but did put in the effort during his brief time on the field, earning his coach’s approval.

“Ivan was left out, even though he was fit and scored against Felda, as I wasn’t happy with his performance; but he showed me something tonight. It’s too early to talk about Friday’s game, but, yes, he’s got a good chance of starting on Friday now.

“I was convinced that we could score in the last minute and the development of this match showed that we were the stronger team and that we had the better fitness,” Juergen Raab explained.

“Sometimes you can be very lucky, but we worked for this luck tonight.

Indeed it was superior fitness, more than mere luck, that earned the Stags their fourth win of the season and puts them within four points of unbeaten leaders, Albirex Niigata (Singapore).

The squad was threadbare, due to an injury pile-up, regular captain Madhu Mohana, Imran Sahib, Jamil Ali, Fazrul Nawaz and Irwan Shah all being unavailable.

Fahrudin Mustafic and Daniel Bennett brought all of their years of experience to the game and marshalled the defence superbly throughout.

Fahrudin even went close to breaking the deadlock himself in the 73rd minute, as he powered a header towards goal after a Shahdan Sulaiman corner had arrived tantalisingly in the six-yard box.

The goal was denied by an instinctive stop on the goal-line by Young Lions’ keeper, Zharfan Rohaizad, who knew very little about it, to be truthful, as Fahrudin pleaded with the referee that the ball may even have crossed the line before being kept out.

Ultimately, however, it was down to Amri and the element of surprise so essential in football with defences, for the most part, well-drilled in dealing with the predictable methods of attack.

In this case it wasn’t the unpredictable, as Amri’s qualities are well-known, but the inability of the Young Lions to stay mentally strong until the very last second of the match. Thus they paid the price, all of their hard-running and extensive pressing coming to nought.

And an unpredictable starting line-up earning coach Juergen, who left his only specialist strikers out, a great vindication of his tactical ploy.

Tampines Rovers are certainly not Chelsea, but both teams share an astute tactician, if this game is any guide.

Prime Boys Celebrate Once More

By Greenrover

There was jubilation at Yishun Stadium on Saturday evening for Tampines Rovers’ Prime League boys, following their hard-earned 3-2 victory over the NFA Under-18s side, a win that came after a run of outs, due to wretched luck in recent weeks.

Here fortune was more favourable, with the team, shorn of injured captain Andi Agus and some other notable absentees, raced to a 2-0 lead inside 16 minutes.

This against a side that had beaten Geylang International 5-1 in a recent outing at the Yishun ground, one with a pitch which is often greasy and heavy, no different here.

The Tampines’ players seemed to adapt better than their more familiar opponents who were slipping on the sodden surface, so much so that they conceded a free-kick after only five minutes and a penalty after 16. In both instances the Stags’ players posed huge problems with their quick feet and the opportunities presented to the visiting side certainly didn’t go to waste.

After the ball had been dispatched from the right byline, level with the penalty-area, Tampines’ star, the ever-lively Haiqal Sulaiman, seized on a partial clearance to rifle the ball home from 12 yards to the delight of the travelling supporters.

Eleven minutes later and Haiqal was again seen to advantage when he made a blistering run from at least half way to charge into the area. towards the left, where he skipped past one man only to be chased and dragged down in full view of referee, Muhd Zulfiqar, who immediately pointed to the spot.

After Diego Silvas had missed with a penalty in midweek against Geylang at Bedok, the responsibility was placed in the capable hands of Faizal Raffi, one of the team’s most reliable attacking players.

He buried the ball in the top-left corner to make it 2-0 and by that stage it had been all Tampines, with Haiqal blasting over the bar just eight minutes in, after benefitting from a strong run and subsequent pass from the dynamic Khairul Nizam.

NFA striker, Amirul Haikal, could do no better than find the side-netting a minute later, in one of the few raids to trouble a restructured Stags’ defence.

The Under-18 team took some time to find their rhythm on their own pitch, but once they did it was clear that Tampines would need to dig deep to deny them.

In the 32nd minute they pulled a goal back, following a corner, when Tampines’ defender, Ryhan Stewart, steered the ball into his own net under pressure from a throng of NFA players in a packed six yard area, under the crossbar.

They’d also had a goal ruled out for offside in the 28th and were obviously far from finished in their comeback attempt.

Both sides battled away in the second half with the NFA side on the attack for at least the first 15 minutes.

As Tampines began to return to more adventurous ways, a free-kick deep in the NFA half was charged down and the home side’s Danial Syafiq burst upfield, wit only two defenders between him and goal. He deftly stepped past them both before slamming the ball past Tampines’ keeper, Haikal Hasnol, back from AFC Cup back-up duty in the S.League team’s winning visit to Pahang where they beat Felda 3-1.

No faulting the keeper, though, who was completely exposed and he was able to hold off a couple of later raids, as well, with smart reflex saves.

Those proved invaluable as within minutes of claiming that equaliser the NFA team were behind again, after Diego had been bundled over in the penalty area, by opposing keeper, Ridhwan Aban, when attempting a shot.

With Faizal already having been substituted by Sheikh Ibrahim in the 58th, the penalty-taking duties were handed to Danish Uwais, just back from suspension.

He, too, buried the ball in the roof of the net to make it 3-2.

There was still plenty of work to do, however, with the NFA boys keen to get something from the game, but solid defence and hard work allowed the Stags to come away with a very satisfying three points which they richly deserved.

“We weren’t at full strength today, especially in defence,” observed Tampines coach, Dilwant Singh, later.

“But everyone worked hard and they needed to as these Under-18s are the best of their age group in Singapore.

Dilwant advised that the team’s skipper, Andi Agus, will need at least a fortnight to recover from the deep gash he sustained in midweek.

Also missing in the squad this time was striker Zulfadhmi Suzliman, but the coach rested the player on this occasion, with others preferred and given opportunities instead of the absent regulars.

After tough games against Hougang United, Home United and Geylang, it was pleasing to see this talented team back on the winning trail.

Raab To Face Former Club Young Lions

Tomorrow night will be the first time we play the Garena Young Lions this season, with our other two games against the team in September and October.

Head to head in our last 18 games, the Young Lions have beaten us only once — a narrow 1-0 victory over us on 19 September 2015 at Jurong West Stadium. Both sides have only drawn once in our last 18 meetings, a game which ended 1-1 on 4 September 2010.

Juergen was the head coach of then known Courts Young Lions for the rest of the 2015 S.League season after Aide Iskandar resigned. He says that this is going to be a special game for him, but won’t be so intense as many players from his time with the Young Lions are no longer with the team. Prior to Young Lions, Juergen signed a one year contract with the Singapore National Team to work with then head coach Bernd Stange, in the area of fitness in particular.

Besides Juergen, golden man Khairul Amri will also be facing his club last season tomorrow night. Amri has just returned from injury, playing his first game back against Felda United in the AFC Cup just three days ago, where he put us back in the lead at 68th minute (just three minutes after coming on) and securing the three points for us only four minutes later. The game ended 3-1 to us. Amri captained, and made 23 appearances and scored six goals for the Young Lions last season.

Fandi Ahmad’s second son, Ikhsan Fandi, is set to play against us tomorrow for the Young Lions. He hasn’t been getting much game time this season due to him currently serving his National Service.

Club skipper Madhu Mohana is still out with a hamstring injury, whilst Irwan Shah will miss this game as well with an injury attained during our home game against Hanoi in the AFC Cup. On the other hand, both Ismadi Mukhtar and Khairul Amri returned from injury three days ago against Felda United.

Young Lions in their six games played this season have not managed to earn a point, but head coach Juergen Raab believes that having seen them play, the score lines are not reflecting the performances of the team.

We, on the other hand, have had impressive performances in our last three games, winning the last two, and are looking forward to continuing our fantastic form tomorrow to get to the top of the S.League table.

Come down to Jurong West Stadium tomorrow night, 23 April, to support our Stags as we take on the Garena Young Lions! Kickoff is 7:30pm, see you there!

Teams’ Form In Their Last Five Games:

Tampines Rovers Form
Hanoi 4 – 0 Tampines Rovers
Tampines Rovers 0 – 1 Warriors
Tampines Rovers 1 -2 Hanoi
Geylang International 0 – 4 Tampines Rovers
Felda United 1 – 3 Tampines Rovers

Garena Young Lions Form
Young Lions 0 – 5 Albirex Niigata (S)
Hougang United 2 – 0 Young Lions
Balestier Khalsa 1 – 0 Young Lions
Warriors 4 -3 Young Lions
Young Lions 0 – 2 Geylang International

Thunderstorm Fails to Quench Fire

By Ruth Ooi

The senior Tampines Rovers team excelled at the Tun Abdul Razak Stadium in Kuantan on Wednesday night in their AFC Cup Group G match against Felda United.

The spectacular stadium was hosting its first-ever AFC cup match but will not go down in the history books as a positive outcome for the home side. The pre-match warm-ups were held indoors as a thunderstorm, complete with lightning, engulfed the stadium for an hour immediately prior to kick-off. Rain continued throughout the match but did not affect the determination of the Stags.

Croatian Ivan Dzoni opened the scoring in the 29th minute after a cross from Yasir Hanapi found him unmarked and bearing down on goal. The Stags’ defence did a solid job right up until the 51st minute when Felda’s Norshahrul managed to pull one back for the home team. At one-all it seemed that a repeat of the eventual 2-1 loss to Hanoi in the previous game might happen again. Head Coach Juergen Raab had other ideas though.

In a pre-match interview when asked what he had in store for Felda, he slyly remarked that he had a “special surprise” up his sleeve. In the 62nd minute he sprung the surprise: Khairul Amri came on to replace Ivan Dzoni. Within ten minutes Tampines were 3-1 up; Amri scoring twice in the 68th and 72nd minutes, once again showing the calibre for which he is renowned.

Man-of-the-Match Amri indeed was but the result belonged to the entire squad. The journey from Singapore to Kuantan involved two planes and a two-hour bus ride but the mood and dedication of the squad was spot-on. As Juergen Raab is fond of saying: building the squad is a process. And the process certainly seems to be on-track.

Tampines Rovers’ progression out of the group stage now depends upon the results of the final two games in the group: Tampines needs to beat Ceres, and Felda needs to beat Hanoi.

Khairul Amri: We Needed This Win

We came. We fought. We conquered.

We were represented by head coach Juergen Raab, and man of the match Khairul Amri, in the post-match press conference after our 3-1 victory last night, 19 April, over Felda United in the AFC Cup in Malaysia.

Hear What Both Juergen And Amri Had To Say:

Prime Lads Improving

By Greenrover

Although beaten 2-0 in Tuesday night’s Prime League game against Geylang International at Bedok Stadium, Tampines Rovers’ players can hold their heads high, after a fighting performance with which their coach, Dilwant Singh, was thoroughly satisfied.

The Stags were by no means outclassed against one of the traditionally-strong Prime League outfits and could have taken at least a point from the closely-contested encounter, with better fortune being on their side.

After an afternoon of solid rain the notoriously unforgiving Bedok Stadium pitch was left soft and slippery, with a few patches which produced water splashes when tackles were made, though that was only occasionally seen, in what was a mostly flowing game, with neither of the neighbouring teams asserting themselves fully at any stage of an engrossing match.

Tempers frayed at times, however, both on and off the pitch, with referee, Abirami Naidu, having her work cut out to contain some player anger at times and even giving her marching orders to Geylang coach, Noor Ali, based on a Fourth Official’s report, early in the second-half, not long after the Stags had been awarded a penalty, unfortunately smashed powerfully against the Geylang crossbar by Diego Silvas.

That 53rd minute miss came after Zulfadhmi Suzliman had skipped past one lunging tackle, only to come down from another by the same player, once he’d initially wriggled free.

The scrimmage that followed may have had as much to do with Geylang’s resentment about the penalty decision, as the attempts to latch onto the ball as it came back off the crossbar, with boots flying everywhere.

The referee was surrounded by players, but at the same time both benches were weighing in and before long the match official was summoned to the touchline to investigate. After a few words with the fired-up Geylang coach, she pointed to the stands indicating for him to leave the scene.

Geylang had taken the lead in the 37th minute with a goal that Tampines’ coach, Dilwant, later lamented.

Eagles’ midfielder Ashraf Razali, burst through on the left before tucking the ball past debutant keeper, Yuen Yong Jie, who may have hesitated for a split-second before leaving his line, once he’d sensed the imminent danger.

“No, I can’t blame my keeper for that,” explained his coach post-match.

“It was a bad mistake by us in turning the ball over unnecessarily in the middle of the park that allowed the counter-attack to happen,” he said.

“In fact, the keeper did well in his first start for us and I’m very pleased to know that I have a good back-up keeper to call upon now.

That goal came against the run of play, as Tampines showed plenty of hunger prior to conceding.

“The team’s improving with every match,” he went on.

“They are learning all the time and they never stopped trying until the final whistle, even when we were two goals down.”

Tampines tried hard for a goal or two over the concluding stages, having fallen further behind in the 77th, when Noor Ariff slotted the ball home after a low cross from the left byline sat up nicely for him.

“That was another mistake we made,” Dilwant confirmed.

It looked as if the Tampines defence had denied the Geylang man operating out wide the chance to cross, but their player had a second attempt and succeeded in getting to the byline, as Stags’ players relaxed, perhaps thinking their opponents’ chance had already been snuffed out.

“Other than that, I thought the boys played well. We were unlucky a number of times with the chances we created.

At the end of the game skipper, Andi Agus, was injured following a clash of heads with an opponent, suffering concussion and sustaining a deep head wound.

A long delay ensured that six minutes of stoppage-time would be required.

Later, the coach advised that there was no point in taking any chances, as the player’s well-being must always come first.

Andi was attended to on the sidelines by the medical team, for some minutes after the incident happened and was later accompanied from the stadium by a Tampines official, for further assessment.

Apart from the missed penalty, Tampines had some good chances in the game and played plenty of quality football, a thumping header, off a Sheikh Ibrahim cross, by Noor Hilman, clearing the bar narrowly in the 31st.

Diego Silvas had threatened the Geylang defence in the 26th after a very strong run into the six-yard area, only to be denied by a frenzied defender’s clearance.

Stags’ keeper, Yuen, made a number of big saves and was kept busy throughout, never flinching under heavy pressure from the Geylang strikers.

“Apart from one fumbled cross, that he soon recovered from, he was very sound,” his coach declared.

“And furthermore, unlike Geylang, we did it without any of our (eligible) S.League players, so I’m even happier about that.”

Match Day Morning In Kuantan

Match day.

Tonight we will play our last away game in the AFC Cup group stage against Felda United. After breakfast, we went for a walk around the hotel we are staying at.

The game will kick off tonight at 8:45pm. Will you be support our Stags from back home in Singapore?

Photos From The Walk: