Rovers Women Excel Themselves

By Greenrover

Yesterday Evening at Queenstown Stadium, the Tampines Rovers Women’s team came agonisingly close to collecting their first win of the season, dropping points only over the final stages of what had proved to be a heart-stopping performance against their vastly more experienced opponents, Changi Village SRC.

Having taken their time to settle down, the very youthful newly-formed Tampines Rovers team grew in confidence and showed little fear against a team with one win under their belt already and no fewer than six players over the age of 32 in their starting line-up.

In addition, they had three more of similar vintage to provide fresh legs later in the match and it was only after they’d resorted desperately to their bench that the Tampines side’s 66th minute 1-0 lead looked in any danger of being surrendered.

Two injuries during the match took the gloss off what had been a very sound and disciplined display from the fast learners expertly coached by former S.League star, Ratna Suffian.

Five minutes before the break, striker Shahidah Sidek fell awkwardly on the notoriously uneven Queenstown pitch and struggled to limp off the field with a painful knee injury.

Fortunately her replacement, Syafiqah Mutalib, who’d been playing for a while before taking an enforced two-season break, was able to take over the role up front and it was her strength, commitment and vision that allowed Tampines to forge to a thoroughly-deserved 66th minute lead after a superb first half of tight marking and tough tackling allied to the frequent rapid counter-attack.

On one such fast break Aisah Amal had sped away from barely inside her own half to confront the Changi Village keeper, with opposition defenders lagging in her wake, but an attempt on goal was offered momentarily too soon allowing the keeper to gather the ball on her goal line.

Gathering confidence from that forward thrust, the Tampines side, sporting an ice-cool defence, looked more than a match for a side that had beaten Home United 2-0 the previous weekend.

A free-kick, won 30 yards out, allowed the powerful Syafiqah to deliver a shot that proved too strong for the Changi Village keeper, as it passed through her outstretched fingers and sailed into the roof of the net.

Some older players, introduced by the Changi Village side during the second half, made Tampines work harder to retain their slender lead, but when the visitors conceded a 78th minute free-kick, it was unfortunate that the high, lofted shot could only be pushed onto the crossbar and when it dropped, a predatory Changi Village player gleefully rifled the ball into the net.

But a draw might have even flattered a side laden with so much experience, though that was how things were shaping up until the 88th minute, when Tampines keeper, Aisha Kasmawi, was seen sprawled on the turf in her own goalmouth, from an earlier incident, while play was allowed to continue.

Even with the player out of action the opposition carried on with their attacking, as the referee had not stopped the play, but even with that advantage the opponents could only shoot wide of the upright.

With the Tampines reserve keeper called upon to take over, it was a backs-to-the wall effort that was needed to hold off their more experienced adversaries over the concluding five or so minutes left.

As play moved deep into stoppage-time, a sudden surge forward proved too much for the Tampines defence and the keeper, who were helpless to prevent Changi Village snatching an unlikely 2-1 win with effectively the last kick of the game.

But the promise shown by the Tampines side on this occasion should be enough to inspire them to break through for that first victory before much longer.

It was a huge team effort, full of heart and endeavour and a credit to the coach and his new squad.

Only positives can be taken from this heartening performance, which unfortunately ended in heartbreak, though, with their obvious fighting qualities, the women’s team are sure to put it all behind them when they meet Kaki Bukit next weekend.

7 Stags Recalled To Singapore National Team

One striker, one midfielder, one goalkeeper and four defenders. We are pleased to say that during this two-week international break, Khairul Amri, Yasir Hanapi, Izwan Mahbud, Madhu Mohana, Shakir Hamzah, Fahrudin Mustafic, and Daniel Bennett have been recalled to Sundram’s 23-man national team squad. They will play a friendly against Afghanistan on 23 March in Doha as preparation for their 2019 AFC Asian Cup Group E qualifiers before travelling to Bahrain to kickstart the campaign.

Daniel has the most experience with Singapore’s national team amongst the seven, having made his debut 15 years ago on 11 December in 2002 in a friendly against the Philippines. On 4 August 2003, he scored his first goal for Singapore. With the Lions, Daniel has won the ASEAN Football Championship three times — 2004, 2007 and 2012. Since his debut, Daniel currently has made 132 appearances and scored six goals for the country. Despite having turned 39 this year, he is no doubt still a solid defender and plays a key role for the Lions. Age is just a number.

Singapore’s golden man, Amri, made his debut for Singapore’s national team two years after Daniel in 2004 through a game against Oman. Amri has caps for Singapore at the youth level as well, with caps in the U16, U18 and U23 teams. He has won the AFF Championship (aka Suzuki Cup) three times with the Lions — 2004, 2007 and 2012 and has a bronze medal at the SEA Games from 2006. Currently, Amri has made 113 appearances and scored 32 goals for Singapore. Despite the injuries he’s sustained over the course of his career, Amri shows no sign of slowing down, evident from the beautiful overhead kick goal he scored in the AFF Suzuki Cup only late last year.

Another two years later in a friendly against Denmark in 2006, we saw Fahrudin make his debut for the Lions. The Lions have won five of the eight games that Fahrudin has scored in, three of those being at home. He was part of the AFF Championship squad that won the title in 2007 and 2012. Adding a cherry on top of his first title win with Singapore in 2007 also saw Fahrudin score his first international goal through a penalty at the National Stadium in the final, where the Lions won 2-1. Currently having made 82 appearances and scoring eight goals for Singapore, Fahrudin plays a very important role for the Lions with the experience and leadership skills he has both on and off the pitch.

Placing a halt to debuts every two years, Izwan’s debut for the Lions came five years after Fahrudin on 18 July in 2011. Just like Daniel and Fahrudin, his debut was through a friendly match, against Chinese Taipei. His most famous performance for the Lions, where the video went viral online, was when he made 18 incredible saves against Asian powerhouse Japan that eventually finished with a draw, 0-0. At 22, he was the first choice goalkeeper in the 2012 AFF Suzuki Cup. Izwan currently only has one title to his name with the Lions — when they won the AFF Championship in 2012. Despite the friendly rivalry he has with Singapore’s #18 Hassan Sunny for the first choice position, Izwan currently has 41 appearances with the Lions and we’re certain that that number will only keep increasing.

Double debut in 2012! Yasir and Shakir both made their debuts for Singapore in the same year. Shakir’s debut came through starting in the first of two legs of the highly anticipated yearly Causeway Challenge against Malaysia. Despite the two not having won any silverware yet with the Lions, they have medals to their name at the youth level in the SEA Games. Yasir won the bronze medal in 2007 and 2009, whilst Shakir won the bronze medal as well in 2013. Yasir’s first and currently only goal for the Lions came just last year on 13 November, in their final preparation match for the AFF Championship against Cambodia at Jalan Besar Stadium. His first goal proved to be an important one for the country, as the Lions walked out 1-0 winners. Yasir currently has 15 appearances whilst Shakir has a slightly over double with 31 appearances for the Lions.

Club captain Madhu debuted for the Lions a year after Yasir and Shakir in 2013, where he started against Laos on October 10. He has represented Singapore at the U22 level, where he made four appearances and scored one goal as part of the AFC Asian Cup qualifiers squad. Despite not having won any silverware with the Lions just yet, Madhu has proven himself to be a key role to both our club and country’s defence. His well-known long throw-ins led to Amri scoring Singapore’s only goal in the Suzuki Cup last year. Since his debut, Madhu has made 22 appearances for the Lions but there’s no doubt we’ll be seeing him a lot more donning the Singapore jersey.

436 appearances and 47 goals from our seven players combined have been made for the Lions. Amri, Yasir, Izwan, Madhu, Shakir, Fahrudin, and Daniel have all played vital roles for our club this season so far, and truly deserve their recalls to the Sundram’s squad. There’s no doubt that they will be an important component for the Lions during this international break and will perform just as well for country as they have for club. We wish all seven of our players all the best on international duty.

Izwan Mahbud: Striker To Goalkeeper

Born: July 14, 1990
Nationality: Singaporean
Position: Goalkeeper
Jersey Number: 1
Year Signed: 2016
Previous Clubs:
– NFA (2005-2008)
– Young Lions (2008-2011)
– LionsXII (2012-2015)
Schools:
– Anderson Primary (1997-2003)
– Fuchun Secondary (2004-2008)
– ITE College East (2009-2011)

Bio

Not only the club’s first choice goalkeeper, Izwan is also part of Singapore’s national team. On 18 July 2011, Izwan made his international debut for Singapore through a friendly against Chinese Taipei. One of his most recognised games was when Singapore played Japan in 2015, with Izwan making 18 absolutely incredible saves to keep the game at 0-0 and draw with the Asian powerhouse. At only 22 years old, he was the first choice goalkeeper in their AFF Suzuki Cup triumph in 2012.

Many do not know this, but Izwan actually started out playing as a forward before switching to play in goal at age 14. He came through the ranks of the National Football Academy (NFA) system, before eventually signing with the Young Lions — his first professional club. He began his career with them as the second choice goalkeeper. However, when first choice goalkeeper Basil Chan suffered an injury, Izwan became, and remained, the first choice goalkeeper for the Young Lions.

When LionsXII was formed, Izwan signed with them and left the S.League to play in the Malaysian Super League. Whilst with LionsXII, he won the Malaysia Super League in 2013 and Malaysia FA Cup in 2015.

With LionsXII eventually going defunct, Izwan returned to the S.League and signed with Tampines Rovers in 2016. However, before signing with us, he did have a week long trial with Japanese side Matsumoto Yamaga after his very impressive performance against Japan that saw the game end 0-0; with Izwan famously making those 18 saves.

Three of Izwan’s favourite footballers in the world are David de Gea, Peter Schmeichel and Iker Casillas. Back to the local context, his legends are Abbas Saad and Fandi Ahmad.

Izwan does see negative comments on social media, but instead of allowing them to bring him down, he looks at it positively, turning it to motivation to work harder to constantly be better than the day before.

Personally, Izwan is shy when the cameras are pointing directly at him, but finds other ways to get in front of the camera indirectly — whether it’s secretly popping his head up behind one of our other boys or purposely standing in front of the camera to block the view. (Watch the videos on our official YouTube channel to see what he does.) He takes it hard on himself whenever he performs badly in a game, but is always learning from the mistakes he makes to constantly improve himself.

Despite the fame and success he has achieved not only in Singapore, but overseas (in Malaysia during our pre-season tour this year, he would be constantly stopped by fans for a photo), Izwan remains exceptionally humble and works hard at every single training session. He is extremely grateful to everyone that supports him and will always take photos with fans if they ask. Izwan is known for his top class goalkeeping abilities on the pitch, but what many people don’t see behind the scenes, is the wonderful personality and character that he has. 🙂

Rover Rescues Hanoi Aunty

Match-Day. The squad was up early for breakfast; followed by a brisk walk around the streets of old Hanoi that surround the hotel.

Hanoi is a fascinating city. With a thousand years of history, it is modernising quickly with tall glass towers replacing the old. The inner city in which our ultra-modern hotel is based is unlikely to lose its character any time soon though.

It is refreshing to note that a trip overseas is about more than ninety minutes on grass. The whole squad benefits from the experience of travelling and experiencing different cultures. Team bonding is strong.

The clickbait headline? Goalkeeper coach William Phang was quick to react when a lady tumbled off her over-loaded bicycle.

Final Training before Hanoi Clash

The final training session was held yesterday (Tuesday) evening at the My Dinh Stadium in Hanoi.

The squad arrived twenty minutes early and limbered up on the running track. Road traffic was heavy and we did not want to be late for our 6pm training slot. AFC rules are very strict regarding training sessions. We are allowed one-hour on the playing surface at the stadium at which the game will be played, at the allotted time.

The team are in good spirits after arriving Monday evening in Hanoi. Build-up is a carefully-managed combination of relaxation, good nutrition, and training. Head Coach Juergen Raab is very clear about what he wants, and the squad are responding well.

Rovers Fighting Spirit Dismisses NFA-17

By Greenrover

They needed two goals in a minute, 15 minutes from the end, to defeat a lively NFA Under-17 team 4-2 at Jurong West Stadium on Sunday night, but their first home game, six days after they’d opened their 2017 campaign with a come-from-behind 2-2 draw at Toa Payoh Stadium was a tribute to another fighting effort by the Tampines Rovers Prime League side.

After establishing a handy 2-0 lead inside 16 minutes the young Stags, who had survived some early scares when the visitors fired wide from good goalscoring positions early on, managed to lose their way in the middle stages of the match.

The Under-17s pulled one back from the penalty spot in the 23rd minute after their speedy right winger, Syafiq Asaraf, had been bundled over just inside the penalty area by Stags’ left-back, Nor Hilman.

Handy midfielder, Hidayatul Firdaus, made no mistake with the penalty-kick, sending the keeper the wrong way to reduce the home side’s lead to 2-1.

Piling on plenty of pressure thereafter, the NFA side looked more than capable of fighting back and when they drew level in the 52nd it came as no surprise as only wayward finishing had denied them goals before that.

Khairul Hairie, who was later to be sent off after receiving two cautions, carved up defenders down the right with his incisive running and as he sped past Raja Rishan, he looked up, took aim and found the top left corner of the net from 15 yards.

The Under-17s twice hit the frame of the goal soon after that equaliser and were denied by a brilliant save from Tampines’ keeper, Haikal Hasnol, in the 69th, somehow keeping out a volley from close-range by Khairul, after a smart cross from probing substitute, Syahadat Masnawi, down the right.

That save proved a turning point, but while Khairul was surprisingly cautioned twice in six minutes and sent from the field, by then the Stags had forged to a surprise 4-2 lead.

With the extra man advantage Tampines held onto their two-goal lead and saw it out to the finish with a strong finish.

After their keeper’s spectacular and crucial save in the 69th, the home team got their second wind and set sail for a storming finish.

An assault on the NFA goal in the 75th saw Tampines go 3-2 up as Faizal Raffi’s effort from close range struck the left hand upright before bouncing over the line.

This came after good work from Rafiq Tajudin and Syed Haziq, with the irrepressible Diego Silvas also involved as usual. The all-round team effort brought about the goals to that point, but it was a piece of individual inspiration from Haziq that put the game to rest just a minute later.

The midfielder, who had been a surprise selection in the Tampines S.League starting eleven at the Sports Hub against Albirex Niigata (S) was everywhere in this game and when he spotted the tall Under-17 keeper, Putra Anugerah, slightly off his line he took full toll of it with a superb lob that the back-pedalling custodian could not reach as the ball sailed into the roof of the net.

The 4-2 win never looked likely during the middle stages of a game laden with chances at both ends and in which the NFA lads, despite their age disadvantage, looked quite capable of winning themselves at certain stages.

Tampines will face a far stiffer test in their next outing as they face defending champions, Home United, again at Jurong West Stadium, this time on Wednesday 22nd March, at 7.30pm.

This team shows promise, but Home United have begun the season well too, their latest effort a handy 4-0 win over Balestier Khalsa at Bishan Stadium on the same night the Tampines boys were dispensing with the NFA side.