Juergen Raab: The Title Race Is Not Over

We were represented by head coach Juergen Raab in the post-match press conference after our first game of the second round in the league against Albirex Niigata (S) on 21st May 2017. The White Swans were represented by head coach Yoshinaga Kazuaki, and general manager Koh Mui Tee.

Hear What Both Teams Had To Say:

Top Of The Table Clash As Stags Face Swans

By: Alia Harvey

Great Eastern-Hyundai S.League 2017

Tampines Rovers v. Albirex Niigata (S)

21 May (Sunday), 7:30pm, Jurong West Stadium

A top of the table clash when we play host to Albirex Niigata (S) tomorrow night at Jurong West Stadium as we kick off our second round of the league. Many will remember our game against the White Swans back in February in the Community Shield, the league opener of the season. Read our match preview as we prepare to face Albirex the second time this season tomorrow night.

What’s our form at the moment?

We ended round one of the league last week on a high, defeating Home United 3-2, which ended their unbeaten run this season. We enter the second round on a four game winning streak, and sit second on the table with six wins and two losses. Defeating Home United’s unbeaten streak last week, the Stags are confident of ending Albirex Niigata’s one as well.

What’s Albirex Niigata’s form at the moment?

The same situation as when we faced Home United last week, the White Swans will enter this game tomorrow night undefeated in the league so far. They sit top of the table with seven wins and a draw, making them the only team that went undefeated in the first round of the league. Their greatest victory in the league thus far was on 4 March when they beat the Garena Young Lions 5-0 away from home.

Past encounters with Albirex Niigata?
In our last 25 meetings across competitions, we have twelve wins whilst Albirex Niigata have eight. Five of our clashes have been draws. On 27 July 2011 in the League Cup, we lost to Albirex Niigata in a 13 goal thriller where the White Swans walked out 7-6 winners. We faced tomorrow night’s opponents five times last season, with us winning twice whilst the White Swans won thrice. Our last league game last season on 26 October saw us beat the White Swans 5-1. However, three days later in the RHB Singapore Cup, we lost 2-0, which allowed Albirex Niigata to sweep all four trophies in 2016. We finished the season last year only a point behind the White Swans in the league.

The last time we faced Albirex Niigata?

When we faced the White Swans back in February for the Community Shield in front of a 15,480 strong crowd, which doubles as the league opener, fans will no doubt remember the entertaining encounter — a game where we had a penalty retaken, and were awarded six yellow cards, and three red cards. Ryutaro Megumi broke the deadlock in the 36th minute, before Albirex’s Shoichiro Sakamoto equalised in the 74th minute, and scored the winner just eight minutes later. A win tomorrow night will close the gap between us and the current leaders, and is an important game for us as we work towards being champions this season.

Team News?

Joey Sim is likely to start in goal tomorrow night as Izwan Mahbud is out on injury.

How’s the S.League table looking?
We sit second on the S.League table, four points behind tomorrow night’s opponents Albirex Niigata (S). Home United and Warriors place third and fourth respectively with seventeen points each. Hougang United are fifth with ten, with Geylang International trailing two points behind at sixth. The bottom three teams are Balestier Khalsa, Brunei DPMM, and the Garena Young Lions with six, four, and one point respectively.

What has the head coach said ahead of tomorrow night’s clash?
Juergen: “We have had the best preparation for the match against Albirex. It is a great challenge for us, also because Albirex have been unbeaten since the start of the season. We’ve been together longer now, the development from the team is going up. It’s the next chance to show that we can beat this team, and play excitement in the table.”

Other S.League fixtures this week?
Warriors v. Balestier Khalsa [19 May, JBS, 1-0]
Geylang International v. Hougang United [20 May, JBS]

Garena Young Lions v. Home United [21 May, JBS]

Stags Fighting Prime League Draw

By Greenrover

Reigning Prime League champions Home United may have beaten the Stags 4-2 earlier in the season at the Protectors’ own Bishan Stadium fortress, but the early pacesetters again this season were twice headed by the Tampines Rovers boys before clawing their way back to salvage a face-saving 2-2 draw at Jurong West Stadium on Saturday night.

The result allowed Geylang International to overtake the Protectors, who, Nevertheless, remain unbeaten and still have two games in hand on some of their main rivals.

Tampines Rovers showed that they had learned plenty from the first meeting of the two teams and thanks to steady improvement each week the young Stags were able to keep Home United on the back foot for much of the ninety minutes, with their tenacity and clever attacking moves, no doubt surprising a Protectors side that is used to being labelled nearly invincible.

It was significant that after pulling back to 1-1 before half-time Home’s veteran coach Bernard Lan had his players out on the pitch early following the break.

Even more noteworthy, after the final whistle, was the sight of their players making a quick exit to the sheds for a post-mortem, no doubt with the riot-act being read to his players by a seriously displeased Lan.

For Tampines there were nothing but positives to come out of the game.

With no senior S.League players on the team sheet, other than third-choice keeper and regular Prime League custodian Haikal Hasnol, Tampines fielded a very young and fast-learning bunch of players against a maturing opponent who included Serbian striker, Suto Marijan, at least in the second-half. The big foreign Prime League striker who came off the bench, is a player who’d contributed almost a full game for his S.League team 24 hours earlier in their 3-2 defeat at the hands of the jubilant Stags.

Suto was deployed as an out-and-out target-man and it was he who managed to put his side level for the second time midway through the second-half, with a free-kick, but who was also denied when attempting to put his side in front from the penalty-spot later in the match, thanks to a smart save from Haikal Hasnol.

It was noteworthy that Home United, a side renowned for finishing their games off more strongly than almost all of their opponents, had to resort to the bench several times in order to try and salvage some pride from the game.

Apart from throwing on Suto at half-time, Protectors’ coach Lan made further changes in the 55th, 66th and 78th, but all his team had to show for it was Suto’s expertly-delivered free-kick.

Tampines must be commended for pushing Home United all the way and once again it was a great team effort that earned them the valuable point.

The game was an entertaining one, with plenty of positive play from both sides, although it did become a little rugged at times with neither side giving an inch.

Home United fired a few early salvos, but couldn’t hit the target, Khairul Shari well wide in the eighth minute and Ridhuan Shamsuddin smashing his effort against the post in the tenth.

A nicely directed throw-in from the right by teenage defender Ryhan Stewart allowed Tampines’ front runner, Diego Silvas, to race to the by-line and under immense pressure from his marker get the ball across low to the goalmouth.

Haiqal Sulaiman, always a huge danger in the opponents’ penalty-area, got his head to the ball before any Home United defender could sense his presence and the ball fairly thundered into the top corner of the net to make it 1-0.

Khairul Nizam almost made it 2-0 in the 16th, but his volley from 20 yards was brilliantly tipped over the bar by a relieved Home United keeper, Kenji Syed Rusydi.

Home United rallied then and after Haikal Hasnol had saved well from Nikesh Singh Sidhu in the 20th minute, the visitors drew level three minutes later.

A cross from the right was not dealt with at all well and that left Arshad Shaiman free at the near post to tuck the ball into the net at close range.

Tampines continued to create chances, however, with Diego involved in many of them. He picked out Faizal Raffi in the 32nd but one-on-one with the keeper the latter could only deliver the ball into the custodian’s waiting arms.

In the 41st Diego fed the ball from the left via Faizal to a waiting Ryhan Stewart out wide on the right, but with the goal at his mercy the defender rushed his shot from a clearly unfamiliar forward position and sent the ball well wide of the goal.

Home United might have taken an undeserved lead on the strike of half-time, but they blasted well wide themselves to bring an exciting first-half to a close.

Tampines regained the lead in the 52nd, precipitating at least two premature substitutions by a harried Home United bench.

After a corner on the right from stand-in skipper Aide Shazwandi, the ball arrived on the left for Zulfadhmi Suzliman to send back across goal where it was beautifully headed home by Faizal.

The Stags were far from finished and showed no fear of their opponents’ reputation for superior fitness. Yet after several big runs into the Protectors’ half which proved unrewarding, it was Home United who managed to score next.

They won a free-kick in the middle on the edge of the penalty area and Suto was able to send his shot over the wall and into the roof of Haikal’s net.

In the 77th minute with Tampines defending strongly there appeared to be no contact as Haikal raced out to greet the on-rushing Home United man chasing a through ball from deep, but referee, Chan Kwok Wai, felt otherwise and pointed to the spot.

Up stepped Suto again and Tampines’ hearts were in mouths as the big Serbian striker lined up his conversion attempt.

But Haikal proved the hero for the Stags as he guessed correctly and dived to his right to deflect the shot away. He then produced a second reflex save to deny another Home United player the glory from the rebound.

This was a hard-earned, yet well-deserved win by the young Tampines team.

Their coach, Dilwant Singh agreed.

“They’re improving week-by-week and this team will be very good indeed next season, as they’re still learning,” he said.

“This is a work in progress and I’m very pleased with how they’re doing in the short time I’ve been here,” he went on.

The Tampines Rovers Prime League side is shaping up well and will be in action once again at the same Jurong West venue on Tuesday 23rd May when they meet, Warriors FC, kick-off 7:45pm.

The Warriors won the first encounter 3-0 at Choa Chu Kang Stadium back in March, but the Stags will be ready for them this time.

Rovers Triumph Over Leaders

By Greenrover

Boom team Home United were brought crashing back down to earth on Friday night by old rivals Tampines Rovers at Jalan Besar Stadium, as the Stags came storming back after going a goal down early in the game to record a morale-boosting 3-2 win over the Protectors, who had gone into the game unbeaten.

With Home United having progressed to the kick-out rounds of the AFC Cup and Tampines having been eliminated after a disappointing loss to Ceres Negros on this same Jalan Besar Stadium surface ten days earlier, the early goal could have disheartened many another team, but the Stags are clearly made of sterner stuff.

They bounced back magnificently, responding far more positively than they had against their AFC Cup opponents, levelling the scores quickly and racing to a 3-1 lead well before half-time.

And unlike the Ceres match the Tampines team remained intact, not losing any player to a red card, despite some hefty challenges in a no-holds-barred first-half contest.

Home United did manage to bring the score back to 3-2 in favour of the Stags, but they could not manage a third goal themselves on this occasion.

Coach Juergen Raab made two significant changes in the starting line-up that he’d deployed against the Stags’ opponents from the Philippines.

He had Khairul Amri on from the start ahead of Ivan Dzoni and brought in Ismadi Mukhtar for Jufri Taha, the changes bringing some variation in style to the way the team had played against Ceres.

Things didn’t look too rosy, however, after only 13 minutes when Home United’s budding youngster, Amiruldin Asraf, latched onto a perfectly-weighted through-pass from Song Uiyoung to finish with ease.

This time Tampines responded positively and resolutely and refused to be pressured by that early breakthrough by their opponents.

In stark contrast to the AFC Cup match the Stags went about their business in polished style and went on the offensive immediately. Amri powered a header just over the crossbar in the 16th minute and then Tampines forced a number of corners as Home United struggled to deal with the attacking threat posed by both Ismadi and Ryutaro Megumi on the flanks.

A corner from the right, swung over as always by Shahdan Sulaiman in the 31st minute yielded the equaliser. The ball reached Amri just outside the six yard area and with Home United keeper Hassan Sunny possibly unable to get a clear look at the marksman as he took aim through a sea of defenders’ legs, the talismanic striker was able to rifle the ball into the net, forcefully and low, with no Protectors’ player able to impede the ball’s progress.

Lifted by this leveller, Tampines continued to test the resilience of the Home United defence, again forcing several corners as the first half wound down.

In the 40th minute, Ismadi showed all the trickery on the right flank that had earned him a national team call-up not so long ago and got past his man to the byline where he delivered a sizzling low cross.

The ball may have been intended for Amri positioned close to the middle and a few yards out, but he was unable to meet it and it fell, instead, to Shakir Hamzah at the edge of the six yard box. Shakir unleashed an unstoppable volley that fairly rocketed into the roof of the Home United net to have the Stags 2-1 up, with five minutes remaining until half-time, an ideal situation to be in.

But it was only to get better as Home United were forced to clear the ball off their line for a corner in the 45th minute and that resultant flag-kick again proved productive.

Shahdan got the ball over nicely to the near post and seasoned defender, Daniel Bennett, was there to meet it with a crisp header that nestled firmly in the top right corner of the net to have Tampines on great terms with themselves at 3-1 heading to the sheds.

It was Daniel’s first goal for the club and his first S.League strike in a while and it was certainly a quite unusual way for the Singapore international to score, as he’s more likely to come up for corners and arrive among a sea of defenders in the middle, rather than getting his head in first at the near stick.

Tampines held their nerve to go on and win the game 3-2, attacking with relish in the second-half as well, with Megumi well to the fore as usual, but Home had made some adjustments and were bent on regaining lost ground.

They met stiff resistance, though, from a well-drilled Tampines back-line and a steady, steely midfield.

Eventually they found a way through, again a through-ball releasing Amiruldin Asraf, whose near-post finish to a supply from deep by Protectors’ defender, Abdil Qaiyyim, had set the ultimate scorer free.

There were some nervous moments for stand-in keeper, Joey Sim, after the Stags’ had conceded that second goal in the 82nd minute, but again stout defending and iron resolve ensured that the 3-2 result was safe and the three points were secure.

The win not only ended the unbeaten run of Home United, the more favoured of the local teams to unseat reigning champions, Albirex Niigata (S), but victory here took Tampines up to second-spot, one ahead of their opponents in this match.

The Stags are now only four points behind the White Swans and physically in good shape, as players begin to return from injury, to tackle Albirex in the second round, a game that will be eagerly anticipated by all fans of Singapore football, Tampines Rovers’ ones especially.

Coach Juergen was a delighted man as he faced the media post-match, praising his players for their response and positive approach after going a goal down.

The absence of injured keeper, Izwan Mahbud, as well as long-term casualty Fazrul Nawaz and the other still-recovering absentees, Imran Sahib and Irwan Shah, was well-covered-for in this outing and the coach was even afforded the luxury of saving Madhu Mohana for a cameo appearance off the bench in stoppage-time.

A victory over old foes Home United is always to be savoured and especially when it allows the team to leapfrog their opponents and send a strong message to their rival clubs that Tampines Rovers are very much back in business again as the first round of eight matches reached its conclusion with this solid win.

Juergen Raab: It Was A Totally Deserved Win

We ended Home United’s undefeated run in the 2017 Great Eastern-Hyundai S.League season last night, 12 May, at Jalan Besar Stadium. We are also the only team that were victorious over the Dragons in this first round of the league.

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

Watch It Now:

Stags v. Dragons, Amri v. Nizam

By: Alia Harvey

Great Eastern-Hyundai S.League 2017
Tampines Rovers v. Home United
12 May (Friday), 7:30pm, Jalan Besar Stadium

We will be playing host to Home United tomorrow night at Jalan Besar Stadium, which will be shown live on television. It’s going to be a big game tomorrow. Both teams were selected to represent Singapore in 2017 AFC Cup, where we have been sadly knocked out from the group stage, and Home United progressed on.

What’s our form at the moment?
This 2017 S.League season has seen us win five games, and losing two. Our biggest victory this season in the S.League came from our first Eastern Derby against Geylang International on 8 April at Jalan Besar Stadium, where Yasir Hanapi and Ryutaro Megumi scored two goals each. Our last game was played last week at Jalan Besar Stadium in the AFC Cup, a game which we lost 4-2 to Ceres-Negros. We currently also have the best defence record in the league this season.

What’s Home United’s form at the moment?
The Dragons have not lost a single game this 2017 S.League season, winning five and drawing two. They currently are second of the table, sitting just two points above us. Home United have also topped their AFC Cup group and progressed to the next round. Their biggest victory this season came in their season opener against Young Lions, a game which they won 6-1.

Past encounters with Home United?
In our last 21 meetings, we have ten wins whilst Home United have seven. Four of our clashes have been draws. In the 2016 S.League season, we did not manage to beat Home United once in our three meetings, with our best result being a 1-1 draw on 3 March. The last time we tasted victory against the Dragons was on 8 November 2015, a game that saw us walk out with a 3-2 win, and where Jufri Taha scored an own goal.

The last time we face Home United?
The last time we faced the Dragons was on 10 September 2016 at Bishan Stadium. We sadly lost through a narrow 1-0 result, after Shamil Sharif scored in the 73rd minute. Our lost against the Dragons in that game cost us the 2016 S.League title as we were pulled further away from champions Albirex Niigata (S).

Home United celebrate their win against Tampines Rovers on 10 September 2016

Sibling Rivalry
The highly anticipated match tomorrow will see Khairul Amri, and younger brother Khairul Nizam, come head-to-head as they fight for Tampines Rovers and Home United respectively. Both have been having great seasons so far, with stellar performances in the AFC Cup and S.League. Amri came on in our away match against Felda United in the AFC Cup to score two goals and secure us the three points. He also scored a vital last-minute winner against the Garena Young Lions that also secured us all three points. Six years younger Nizam, scored a stellar volley in the AFC Cup in Vietnam against Than Quang Ninh from the edge of the penalty area. He also just scored his first ever goal in the Singapore National Stadium during the Sultan’s Of Selangor’s Cup 2017 on 6 May. Both Amri and Nizam have also played alongside each other in the now-defunct LionsXII, and for Singapore.

Khairul Amri celebrates younger brother, Khairul Nizam’s, goal for LionsXII

Team News?
We welcome back Son Yong Chan and Khairul Amri from suspension. Madhu Mohana made his return last week against Ceres-Negros, after a month of being out with a hamstring injury. Hafiz Rahim has also been cleared to play. Shakir Hamzah, despite having been stretchered off last week against Ceres, is fit to play.

How’s the S.League table looking?
We currently have fifteen points and sit third on the S.League table, with our opponents, Home United, only two points above us in second place. Warriors are trailing us by a point, whilst last year’s champions, Albirex Niigata (S), are sitting at the top with nineteen points. Geylang International are fifth with ten points, whilst Hougang United are just a point behind at sixth. Balestier Khalsa are seventh with six points, and 2015 S.League champions Brunei DPMM sit at eighth with just three points. The Garena Young Lions are bottom of the table, and have yet to score a single point.

Any other S.League games this week?
Geylang International v. Albirex Niigata (S) [11 May, JBS]
Warriors v. Hougang United [11 May, CCK]
Garena Young Lions v. Brunei DPMM [13 May, JBS]

U15s Best Local Team In JSSL7s League

By Alia Harvey

260 teams across ten age groups from fifteen nations took part in the JSSL Singapore 7s league held from 29 April to 1 May. The group stages of the league were held on Saturday and Sunday, with the knockout stage plus finals held on Monday, which was the public holiday of Labour Day.

2017 is the first year that we have had our Under-15s participate in the league. Lead by head coach Razif Ariff, 12 of our boys were selected to compete in the ‘Boys 16’ category. Captained by Zulfarhan Zulkifli, Irwan Raziq, Syahin Zamzinar, Aisar Anis, I’man Dahlan, Raja Wan, Firdaus Budin, Izz Zaydan, Menon Aryan, Krishnakumar Hariysh, Faresh Umar, and Abdul Raziq were selected to be part of the twelve man team.

Over the weekend in the group stages, our boys finished second in Group A after 6 games played. We played against local team Warriors FC, private academies Euro Soccer and JSSL Elite, Indonesia’s Rising Stars, and Hong Kong’s Asia Pacific Soccer School. Finishing second allowed our boys to proceed to challenge for the JSSL Cup on Monday.

On 1 May, not only us, but other local teams Hougang United, Home United, and Warriors were playing for the JSSL Cup as we all finished in top four in our respective groups. Geylang International were playing for the plate as they finished in the bottom three of their group, whilst Balestier Khalsa did not have a team competing in the JSSL7s league. Club chairman, Krishna Ramachandra, was also present to support our boys as they played for the JSSL7s Cup.

Our first knockout game against Bedok Youth Soccerites kicked off at 8am at Turf City. Despite our opponents being physically stronger, our boys held on and defeated them 7-1. Bedok Youth Soccerites did have a penalty, but the shot went wide. We thank them for giving us a good game, and challenging our boys. Two goals by captain Zulfarhan, another two by Firdaus and a hat trick from Hariysh, allowed us to proceed to the next knockout game.

Hat trick hero Hariysh said after the first knockout game, “I feel good. This is my first time playing for a club. I’m happy, and at the same time happy towards my teammates for assisting me for all the goals which allowed me to get a hat trick.”

With the first round of the knockout stage done, we were the only local club left playing for the Cup, as Hougang United, Home United and Warriors all lost their first knockout game.

We had an hour break before our second knockout game, and were sitting beside Home United. Their coaches made toasted bread with chicken for their players, but also shared the bread they made with our players, and management. Despite just getting knocked out, they still wished us all the best for our next game. At the end of the day, all of us in Singapore football are one big family.

Our second knockout game was played at 9:30am against Chinese team AKSIL. We had many chances to comeback and win the game, with us having hit the post and shots going just wide. Our U15s goalkeeper Irwan Raziq even injured his knee during the game, and kept pushing through to fight for the team, before he eventually had no choice but to come off. Despite us having lost the game 3-1 to a team with mostly westerners, and getting knocked out of the competition, it gave our boys great exposure to play against other teams from other countries.

Head coach Razif said about the JSSL7s league, “It’s a good exposure for the boys playing against different countries and styles, and more physically and tactically prepared teams. I hope the boys can pick up and learn from this.”

With regards to his target for the U15s in 2017, “My goal is to get them prepared not just for this year, but for their future football career, and make sure they’re in the right pathway to develop professionally. I want to keep the team together, and hopefully get the boys to progress up to the next level.

Our captain for this JSSL7s league, was Zulfarhan, and is into his second year with the club. When asked about continuing with us, Zul said, “It’s a good experience as I meet new teammates. I think this year will be a great year for us. I’m hoping to play with the team and get to know each other more. I’m looking forward to this season.

Two of our boys, Irwan and Zaydan, will be playing for the first time with a club this season, and have chosen to be with us.

Goalkeeper Irwan said, “It’s a good thing to represent a club, especially a big club like Tampines Rovers. The Stags have a lot of national players in the first team, and it’s good for us youth to have so many inspirations to look up to. Izwan is my favourite goalkeeper, and it’s good to be in the same club as him. I hope I get the chance to train with him one day.”

On the other hand, Zaydan said, “It’s also my first time playing for club. Although I’m a defender, I like to take shots. My favourite first team players are Khairul Amri, and Ivan Dzoni, because they are strong and keep fighting for the team. Even if we are losing, they will still comeback, and always have the mentality to win the game. I hope that this season, our club will win the S.League title, and us as U15s will at least be in the top four and get the chance to go overseas, and challenge other countries and standards.

Despite having new boys who have never played for a club, our boy Farish, had been training with Warriors for the last two years, but will be playing for the league the first time this year. Farish said, “Warriors had too many players, and it was very hard to get into the team. Coach Razif asked me to come to Tampines, and I’m thankful for the opportunity. I’m looking forward to have a new experience in a different club, and can’t wait for the season to start.”

The Under-15 COE League will kickoff on June 29, and will end in mid-August. Looking at their performance in this JSSL7s league, and making it the furthest as compared to the other local teams, we are certain that our young boys will have a great season. 🙂

See Photos From The JSSL7s Singapore League:

RHB Singapore Cup Draw 2017

The draw for the preliminary round of the RHB Singapore Cup was held this lunchtime outside the Ocean Financial Centre in Raffles Place.

This is the 20th edition of the Singapore Cup, having started in 1998. RHB Bank have been supporting the cup for the past 12 years. As a leading regional cup tournament, this year we see teams from Cambodia: Boeung Ket Angkor FC and Nagaworld FC; and from the Philippines: Ceres Negros FC and Global Cebu FC.

As a seeded club, Tampines Rovers will enter the draw of the last eight after this preliminary round has taken place. The draw today resulted in the following intriguing matches:

Hougang United v. Ceres Negros
Balestier Khalsa v. Nagaworld
Geylang International v. Global Cebu
Warriors v. Boeung Ket Angkor

NFA Force Stags to a Draw

By Alia Harvey

Our U21s faced NFA17 yesterday evening, 7th May, at Woodlands Stadium in the Prime League. Former Stags man, Noh Rahman, is the current fitness coach of NFA17. The last time these two teams met, was on 12 March at Jurong West Stadium, a Sunday as well, where the Stags walked out 4-2 winners.

Only a minute into the game, Tampines defender Danish Uwais had his boot tackled off, which left us with a two minute hold on an NFA corner waiting for him to re-wear his boot. The Stags had their first real chance of the game eleven minutes in, after Syed Haziq won us a free kick outside the box. However, the opportunity was wasted as Zulfadhmi Suzliman kicked it straight to the keeper.

We had another opportunity just two minutes later, when goalkeeper Haikal Hasnol kicked the ball straight to Diego Silvas. He managed to dribble the ball to right outside the box, but when it came to the final execution of passing a through ball, an NFA defender was there to stop the attempt. NFA’s Syed Akmal tried his best to test our Haikal Hasnol twenty six minutes into the game from outside the box, but it was too easy for Haikal.

A minute later, NFA’s Syafiq Asaraf nearly broke the deadlock, but shot the sitter wide. A game of equal chances so far for both teams, Syed Haziq won us another free kick which he took, but went high. Ten minutes before halftime, the first offside of the game was given to NFA, before the second one was awarded again only three minutes later to the same team. The Stags earned their first corner of the game thirty-nine minutes in, but unfortunately resulted in nothing. A minute into added time, NFA nearly broke the deadlock when Haikal only pushed the ball away, but Danish Uwais was there to stop NFA from getting the second shot. The tables turned when Stags’ Faizal Raffi found himself right in front of goal just seconds later, but he slipped and NFA goalkeeper Riki Kimura pushed it away for a corner. The first half remained goalless.

The second half kicked off three minutes past six, and we began the game with a corner. Syed Haziq stepped up, and his beautiful corner led to Diego Silvas breaking the deadlock. Just two minutes later, Haiqal Sulaiman dribbled past his defender with his impressive skill, who crossed it in for Faizal Raffi who shot just over the bar.

The second half was all attack, with NFA fighting hard for the equaliser. After just a minute NFA’s Hidayatul Firdaus attempted a volley outside the box that was beautiful, but not enough as it just went over the bar. The Stags get another corner, as Syed Haziq played short to Aide Shazwandi, who then crosses it in for Haiqal Sulaiman, who turned and hit it just over the top corner.

As the stadium isn’t closed during Prime League games, at the 57th minute a ball was kicked onto the field from the children playing outside that Stags’ Faizal Raffi had to clear whilst we were in the midst of attacking. A chance for NFA to equalise in the 60th minute came when they were awarded a freekick outside the box on the left. As beautiful a kick it was, Haikal Hasnol did enough to tip it over the bar. Three minutes later, NFA get another free kick from the same position, this time on the right. It was a different story this time, as Haikal remained still as the kick was taken, and NFA equalised.

It could have been 2-1 to NFA just three minutes later when a Stags defender failed to clear the ball well. A loose, failed clearance allowed NFA’s Joel Chew to run in and whack the ball, which hit the crossbar. NFA were truly on the attack, as only two minutes later they found themselves inside the six yard box, but were called offside. It was twenty minutes before full-time that NFA earned their first corner in the second half. An end-to-end game was possibly stopped when Faizal Raffi was taken down and the Stags were awarded a penalty. Syed Haziq scores easily. 2-1 to the Stags. Five minutes before full-time, we nearly sealed the three points, but Faizal took a shot that just went over the bar. The goal would have proven to be vital to the Stags, as NFA’s Irfan Jeferee equalised only a minute later.

Three minutes of added time, it was anyone’s game. A mess inside the box, the Stags nearly stole all three points from inside the 6-yard box, but an NFA defender saw the shot coming and jumped right in front of goal as the shot was in motion.

Our U21s play their next game on 13th May, moved a day forward, at Jurong West Stadium against Home United, a game that didn’t go well the last time we faced them.

NFA17

Starting XI: Syed Akmal, Rezza Ramadhani (C), Syafiq Asaraf (71’ Syahadat Masnawi), Khairul Hairie (76’ Hadiputradila Saswadimata), Joel Chew (83’ Akram Azman), Zakri Ee, Hidayatul Firdaus, Su Jian Wei, Riki Kimura, Nur Adam, Hamizan Hisham (53’ Irfan Jeferee)

Tampines Rovers

Starting XI: Faizal Raffi (89’ Ryhan Stewart), Diego Silvas, Aide Shazwandi, Danish Uwais, Rafiq Tajudin, Haiqal Sulaiman (83’ Khairul Nizam), Adiputra Jeferee, Andi Agus (C), Zulfadhmi Suzliman, Syed Haziq, Haikal Hasnol

Tough Times for Tampines’ Women

By Greenrover

They faced perhaps their most formidable opponents of the season, Home United, at Queenstown Stadium on Saturday night, their first outing after a two -week break.

A lack of match-fitness was to prove costly, as Tampines Rovers needed to bring on four of their seven substitutes long before half-time and the other three not too far into the second-half. By the end the team had been beaten 4-0, which can be taken as a fair outcome in the circumstances, after a titanic struggle to deal with the only-once-beaten Home United.

Finding themselves a goal down early on and behind 2-0 within half-an-hour it was commendable that the plucky women’s team could hold out Home United until as late as the 78th minute, only conceding a fourth goal in stoppage-time.

Towards the end several players had to leave the field for treatment before returning to do battle, courageously fighting on until the very end. The lush grass of the Queenstown Stadium pitch has found out more seasoned players and Home United needed to replace many of their players as well.

It wasn’t a one-sided game by any means, though shots on goal were few and far between. To their credit the Tampines’ players restricted their Home United opponents from getting in many shots from close-range, thanks to industrious defending and solid teamwork. The players should be proud of being competitive for the entire 90 minutes and can look forward to a return to winning ways in one of their few remaining assignments.

Bravo the brave women of Tampines Rovers!