Four of the Best, Again

By Greenrover

Two wins in a row and a best-ever goal-tally were the noteworthy achievements of the Tampines Rovers’ women’s team, following Sunday’s game against the useful Girls Dream Team (GDT) Circuit FC at Queenstown Stadium.

Overcoming a somewhat sluggish start, conceding a goal after only eleven minutes, the visitors fought back well to draw level in the 25th, before going on to post a resounding 4-1 win over a side they’d already beaten in a pre-season trial game at the Tampines’ team’s training base, ITE College East, back in mid-February.

Having broken their season’s duck the previous week with a narrow win over Arion Football Academy, the talented Tampines side, whose oldest squad member is barely 27, proved that their previous trial-game win was no fluke and that the win against Arion was just the tonic the team needed to move their campaign onto a more solid footing.

Tampines were clearly not fully-wound-up at the start of the game, as they succumbed easily to an opening goal that saw the ball, sent over into a packed penalty-area from a corner on the left, easily volleyed home by GDT forward, Shaeerah Samat, who was given more than ample time to get her shot away, with defenders slow to spot the danger.

Tampines had won corners of their own during the opening 15 minutes, but were nowhere near as clinical as their opponents, their best effort being a shot driven wide in the 13th minute by Adelia Azeman. Tampines almost conceded a second in the 22nd, as the goal-hungry Shaeerah charged through in pursuit of a clever through-ball, but Tampines’ keeper, Aisha Kasmawi, was this time alert to the danger and raced out to boot clear, before the GDT striker could finish the move.

Once they’d survived that second early scare, Tampines finally awoke from their slumber and were soon able to draw level.

The equaliser arrived in the 25th, after a deep cross from the left saw the GDT keeper hesitate; in an instant, teenage midfielder, Nabella Fitri, had put a low shot past the despairing GDT custodian, Zubaidah Harman, to make it 1-1.

Tampines needed more thrust up front, or so their coach Ratna Suffian must have reasoned, as he introduced his punchy striker, Syafiqah Mutalib, off the bench, six minutes before the break. The player had demonstrated her predatory prowess in earlier games, being blessed with a lethal left foot and energy to burn, when one-on-one with opposition defenders.

Within minutes the imposing striker had seen a shot of hers cleared off the line, direct from her own inswinging corner and increased Tampines’ team pressure had also produced a fierce free-kick from captain, Nadirah Farid, that was blocked on the goal-line.

This increased intensity augured well for the second-half, with early lethargy clearly now shaken off and a more determined mind-set taken into the remaining half of the game. So it proved, with the jubilant Syafiqah making good the threat, with a superb volley, just two minutes after the resumption, from 25 yards out, following a pinpoint cross from the right.

The goal was a huge fillip to the players who then, having taken a deserved 2-1 lead, went on to dominate the game.

Two minutes later Tampines scored a third, a beautiful through ball from Adelia sending the team’s other powerful striker, Shahidah Sidek, through to face the keeper and her lofted shot into the roof of the net gave a helpless Zubaidah no chance.

Tampines should really have put the game well beyond the reach of a plucky GDT, long before Syafiqah finally wrapped it all up with her second goal in the 90th minute for a 4-1 result.

The substitute striker accepted a nice ball from deep by midfield dynamo, Noriko Farahsyazwani, before executing a typically emphatic finish. Syafiqah could well have had two more goals to her name, before she celebrated her brace with a characteristic cartwheel, having been denied by a brave effort from the GDT keeper in the 50th and then slicing another shot wide, when perfectly placed, due to a languid swivel, with the goal at her mercy. The striker admonished herself for her hurried attempt, which could have put her on the way to a well-earned hat-trick.

Strikers aside, it was a far better all-round team performance by Tampines, after their very moderate start. Strong midfield work-rates and defensive vigilance were key components of this second win on the trot for the rapidly-improving team, who will need to cool their heels for two weeks now, with a bye next weekend, before fully testing themselves against the formidable Home United at Serangoon Stadium.

Sahil Leaves For Burnley

We were at Changi Airport in the early hours of this morning, 9 April, to send our player, Sahil Suhaimi, off to Burnley, England. His whole family, including fiancée Asyiha, came to the airport to send him off. Just to let you know, Sahil’s flight was delayed by nearly three hours, so we were all there till 4am!

As you’re reading this, Sahil is currently on a 14-hour plane journey to England. Did you know it’s his first time going to the country?

This player training experience will no doubt benefit Sahil, and we are very proud of him.

Juergen Raab: I Never Thought That We Would Finish With 4-0

The first Eastern Derby of the season, which was our third match in seven days, saw us cruise to a 4-0 victory over Geylang International at Jalan Besar Stadium on 8 April.

The post-match press conference was held pitch-side. Hear what both head coaches, Juergen Raab and Hasrin Jailani, had to say after the derby.

Watch The Post-Match Press Conference:

Four of the Best

By Greenrover

In what was by far their most immaculate performance of the season so far Tampines Rovers cruised past Eastern rivals Geylang International with four unanswered goals to delight fans at Jalan Besar Stadium on Saturday.

It was no walk in the park early on as the traditional derby was laden with rugged challenges and tight goalmouth moments.

After a lean spell that had included a home loss to Warriors FC and a heartbreaking last-gasp loss to Hanoi FC in the AFC Cup four days earlier, coach Juergen Raab was looking for a response from his players.

And they certainly gave him that.

In-form midfielders, Yasir Hanapi and Ryutaro Megumi, scored two apiece, with the Japanese newcomer providing the final passes for both of Yasir’s well-taken goals.

The defence was solid, with all the experience of playing in similar contests down the years brought with them by veterans Daniel Bennett and captain Fahrudin Mustafic.

And behind them in goal, another man grabbing his chance to shine, Joey Sim, showing commendable cool and plenty of courage as Geylang attempted to impose themselves physically on the second-choice keeper, who was taking over from the injured Singapore international, Izwan Mahbud, who had been in superb form himself all season.

“I told Joey, ‘this is your chance to show me you can compete for the number one position’,” said his coach after the game.

“He was superb today and so was the whole team.”

“I didn’t expect such a big win; it’s a great result for us and will do our confidence a lot of good.”

It took some 35 minutes for Tampines to break down a resolute Geylang defence, having gone close themselves less than five minutes from the start with left wing-back, Shakhir Hamzah, seeing his effort blocked on the line by Al-Qaasimy Rahman.

Tampines certainly looked like they meant business and Megumi was posing plenty of problems for Geylang, even before the Stags hit the front in the 35th minute.

His 32nd minute follow-up to Shahdan Sulaiman’s free-kick that almost brought the Geylang keeper undone, was saved point-blank by the Eagles’ shot-stopper, Muhammad Nur Amin.

Three minutes later, however, the Tampines’ tide could not be turned back as Megumi made a strong run down the right and cut inside before unleashing a powerful, low shot that the keeper could not get down to quickly enough as the ball found its way into the bottom corner of the net.

At the other end Joey Sim was kept busy as Shahfiq Ghani, Victor Coto and Safirul Sulaiman threw themselves into the fray.

The reliable deputy keeper patted down one thunderous volley after another as he calmly guarded his goal on a day when his contribution was to prove vital. His many saves and total commitment inspired the Stags to go on with the job and make the second-half their own.

Saves in the 40th and 42nd were key to the recently unfortunate Stags going in leading 1-0 at the break.

There was no stopping them in the second half, once they’d repelled Geylang’s fiery approach after the resumption, for at least 15 minutes.

On a fast break in the 61st Megumi dashed away down the right and after receiving the ball from Yasir, drew no fewer than four defenders, concerned with the threat he was posing. With Yasir left virtually unattended, when the return pass was squared to the Singapore international he was able to beat the Geylang keeper with a lovely low finish from 15 yards, continuing Yasir’s rich vein of form of late.

After that Geylang began to lose their way completely and Tampines went for the jugular.

Another fast break, as the Eagles began to introduce their substitutes in an attempt to chase the game, saw Tampines go 3-0 up.

That same pair — Megumi and Yasir — sped away and found added support from behind that allowed them the luxury of confronting the Geylang defenders four-on-two, rather than their initial two-on-two advantage.

This time Megumi was able to supply an even easier pass for Yasir to go on and curl a sweet left-footer just inside the Geylang left-hand upright.

Tampines weren’t finished yet as Geylang were by then in total disarray.

Tampines’ Prime League player, the useful Faizal Raffi, who replaced the ever-industrious Yasir in the 90th minute, won a tackle 30 yards out and supplied a nice pass for Megumi to make it 4-0 two minutes into stoppage-time.

Shahdan Sulaiman was being treated for a hand injury after the game, while another to sustain an injury was midfielder, Fazli Ayob, who was stretchered-off after 66 minutes.

They join a long injury list after a heavy programme that has left the squad down to bare bones.

Coach Juergen appreciated his team’s efforts so much he promised they could now have two and a half days off. The extra half-day demonstrates that they’ll still need to stay focussed ahead of some more important matches including a return AFC Cup date in Selangor against Felda FC.

For the moment, though, they have time to fully savour this resounding victory, one of their most comprehensive derby wins in a long time.

Fatigue And Injuries Won’t Hold Stags Back For Eastern Derby

By Fan-in-the-Stands

The first Eastern Derby of the season has arrived.

Head-to-head in their last 18 meetings, the Stags are the superior side with twelve wins compared to the Eagles four. That’s three times more!

Fatigue is a word no doubt to be paired with us. The derby will be our third game in the week, having previously played Warriors on Saturday in the S.League, and Hanoi on Tuesday in the AFC Cup. Geylang, on the other hand, played their last competitive game nearly a month ago on 10 March, where they drew against Warriors. Having said that, it is safe to say that Geylang will go into this derby fresher and more well-rested compared to us.

Not only that, the recent international break saw us with seven players called up compared to Geylang’s three. Unfortunately, international duty saw our golden man Khairul Amri suffer an injury during the Bahrain game. However, we can say that Amri is back in training and is looking good. More injuries came for the Stags after international break. Our first S.League game back against Warriors saw Imran Sahib and Hafiz Rahim being stretchered off the pitch; with Ismadi Mukhtar also suffering an injury. Only three days later against Hanoi, we saw more of our players being stretchered off — captain Madhu Mohana, and Izwan Mahbud (who was stretchered off after the game).

This is Geylang’s first home match of the season, but instead of it being played at their home stadium, Bedok, it will be played at Jalan Besar. The venue had to be changed as a carnival is being held at Geylang’s home stadium tonight.

This will be a special game for our defender, Daniel Bennett. He was a key player for Geylang last season, but the club decided not to renew his contract. Although some pressure may be taken off him by not having to play at Bedok, he still has something to prove tonight against his former club.

Geylang’s head coach, Hasrin Jailani, was seen at our AFC Cup game against Hanoi on Tuesday night at Jalan Besar Stadium. Tonight will be the first time Geylang play at Jalan Besar Stadium this season, and it will serve as a slight advantage to us, having already played there. We are currently fifth on the table with six points, and Geylang are seventh with four.

Jamil Ali is our only player suspended, having received a red card in our 1-0 win against Balestier Khalsa at Toa Payoh Stadium.

Despite the disadvantage of many injured players and fatigue, our squad is full of depth. Yes, many of our players may be out, but the rest of the squad are ready to step up and play with all their heart for their, and our club — Tampines Rovers.

Kickoff for the Eastern Derby is 7:30pm. Tickets for the game can be bought on match-day from the JBS ticket counter. Come down to Jalan Besar Stadium today, 8 April, to support our team — the Stags!

Keep Up To Date With Tampines Rovers FC Through Our Official Channels:
Facebook: Tampines Rovers Football Club
Instagram: @TampinesRovers
Twitter: @TRFCStags
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Our official website is of course the main source of information for everything TRFC.

Brand, Website, and Social Media Guidelines

With the growing interest and engagement we are seeing in our on-pitch and off-pitch activities, a reminder to our fans and friends of the use of our logos and trademarks may be timely.

To help avoid confusion please note that the only official sources of information from the club are:

Facebook

facebook.com/tampinesroversfc

Twitter

twitter.com/TRFCStags

Instagram

instagram.com/tampinesrovers

and, of course, this website: tampinesroversfc.com

To further help, we have produced the following:

Brand, Website, and Social Media Guidelines

Please do not hesitate to contact us if you require further information or guidance Contact

Sahil’s EPL Game Changer

We are excited to announce that Tampines Rovers player Sahil Suhaimi is heading to English Premier League club Burnley FC on a month-long player training experience.

Burnley, nicknamed “The Clarets”, were promoted from the Championship last season. For the 2016-17 season they play in the most famous league in the world, the English Premier League. The club’s most notable supporter is the Prince of Wales, Prince Charles.

Burnley are not shy of honours. The Clarets have won the First Division twice, the Second Division thrice, the Third and Fourth Division once, the FA Cup once, and the FA Charity Shield twice.

Their only FA Cup title is a very special one to Burnley indeed. The game was played at Crystal Palace in London in front of 72,778 fans way back in 1914. Burnley scored in the 57th minute to beat one of the biggest and most famous clubs in the world: Liverpool FC.

For the FA Charity Shield, they had to share the title in 1960 with Wolverhampton Wanderers when the game ended 2-2 in front of 19,873 fans at Burnley’s home stadium, Turf Moor. It was an exciting game indeed, with Burnley going 2-1 up in the 87th minute, but Wolverhampton scoring the equaliser just a minute later.

The Clarets are presently known as “Burnley Football Club”. However, the club was originally known as “Burnley *Rovers* Football Club”, which is interestingly similar to our club’s name, “Tampines *Rovers* Football Club”.

Burnley FC and Tampines Rovers FC have another thing in common — players for a country’s senior national team. As a club, 18 of our current Stags have caps with Singapore’s senior national team including, of course, Sahil. Burnley FC have nine players in the senior national team for a stunning six countries: England, Wales, Republic of Ireland, Canada, Belgium, and Iceland.

Tampines Rovers FC chairman, Krishna Ramachandra, said: “We are delighted that this trial has materialised for Sahil. It is a fantastic trailblazing opportunity for him. He has worked very hard to put himself in contention and to realise his full potential. So we are happy for him. I have always taken the view that the S.League clubs are here to serve the Singapore football fraternity – so certainly we will not be holding Sahil back. We were similarly open with Hafiz Sujad and Izwan Mahbud. We need to encourage more young players to go further afield to ply their trade. We wish Sahil the very best and trust he will keep the Singapore flag flying high.”

“Believing in our youth and young players is vital if we are to re-build Singapore football and engage with our communities”, commented Tampines Rovers Vice-Chairman, Christopher Wong. Further adding: “This is only the beginning for the club as we embark on a series of initiatives that will strengthen our youth and build our future.”

Sahil added: “I have always believed in my ability and I am grateful to all those that have made this trial possible. This may only be a trial but it reaffirms my self-belief and I hope this serves as a positive message for all those other footballers who have not yet got the break they are looking for, to just perservere. This is just the first step, but I will definitely be giving it my best show and hopefully do Tampines Rovers, and Singapore proud.”

Tampines Rovers will cover the cost of Sahil’s travel and lodging, with Chairman Krishna Ramachandra personally supporting Sahil’s daily expenses.

We wish Sahil all the best in the UK with English Premier League club Burnley FC. The club has no doubt that Sahil will indeed do both Tampines Rovers and Singapore proud.

Media Release (PDF): Clarets Offer Training Experience to Singapore Striker

Stags Come Up Short

By Greenrover

The fate of the Stags’ 2017 AFC Cup campaign was left hanging by a thread after the team fell at the last hurdle, conceding a goal two minutes into stoppage-time against Hanoi FC at Jalan Besar Stadium on Tuesday night.

Hanoi was the team that had beaten Tampines Rovers 4-0 in Vietnam, before the international break and it was hoped that this home match would see the Singapore representatives in Group G make up some lost ground, having lost both of their away games heavily, without scoring a single goal.

The Stags had beaten Felda 2-1 in their opening game of the series at their home venue and despite a far-from ideal preparation, hopes were high that Hanoi could be stopped in their tracks, having drawn both of their other two games, their only win coming at the expense of Tampines.

Sadly, those hopes evaporated in time-added on at the end of 90 minutes, when Tampines were left trying to salvage a point from a 1-1 draw, having led 1-0 midway through the second-half, only to be pegged back six minutes later, following a Hanoi free-kick that led to their star player, Nguyen Van Quyet, making the most of slack marking to drill a low shot past an exposed Stags’ keeper, Izwan Mahbud.

The signs were brighter earlier on, as Tampines kept their shape well and soaked up plenty of pressure through good organisation and sound application.

They suffered a blow, however, when losing captain Madhu Mohana to injury an hour into the game and coach Juergen Raab, already missing many sidelined players, had to send on left-back Irwan Shah and in turn reshuffle his defence to cover for his missing centre-back.

Surprisingly, the coach had left star Croatian striker, Ivan Dzoni, on the bench, perhaps dissatisfied with his efforts in the most recent home loss to Warriors FC, three days earlier.

But it was that match, played so close to this one, that weighed most heavily on the coach’s mind as he approached this tough task against a well-performed Vietnamese team which came to the game fresh, having faced no domestic commitments that would test their stamina on the weekend before leaving Hanoi.

Raab, by contrast, had not only a mere two-days-rest for this players, but the prospect of another S.League game to contend with four nights later, against Geylang International.

With injuries to Ismadi Mukhtar, Imran Sahib, Khairul Amri and Hafiz Rahim to contend with, from the team’s most recent matches, even having the benefit of two strictly-AFC Cup-registered players in Raspreet Sandhu and Sahil Suhaimi at his disposal, was not enough to provide the necessary balance or cover for his missing key personnel.

Losing Madhu was a further hammer-blow, although it was fortunate that the team did not disintegrate following the departure of their skipper, managing to skip to a 68th minute lead, thanks to the combined efforts of the outstanding Shakir Hamzah, substitute Sahil and ultimate goalscorer, Yasir Hanapi, once again coming up with a Man-of-the-Match performance, with his high work-rate and clinical finishing.

The goal was the highlight for long-suffering Tampines’ fans, who’ve seen far too few successful strikes on goal this season.

With Amri injured and Dzoni left on the bench, the striking ranks were decidedly thin during this game, yet the Stags stuck to their task manfully.

Sahil received the ball from Shakir, who’d won a hotly-contested tackle on the left of half-way, the substitute then charging on, before Shakir made an overlapping run, before sending over a low cross that was inch-perfect for Yasir to meet with a crisp finish, after a well-timed run into the six-yard box.

It was a high-quality goal and drew rapturous applause from the many Tampines fans stationed conveniently nearby in the stand on the side where the goal was created.

Confidence was thus boosted; but clearly concentration was lacking, as a free-kick was needlessly given away, at the other end, in the 74th minute.

The ball was played quickly from wide on the right to Nguyen Van Quyet, who must have chuckled to himself, as he found himself without a close marker as he received the ball at his feet, thus having ample time to turn and make space to deliver a low shot that whistled past Izwan and into the bottom right corner of the net.

No doubt deflated after seeing a potential 1-0 win disappear in the blink of any eye, the team did their best to shrug aside that disappointment and worked hard to at least emerge with a point from the game.

A win would have sent Tampines to the top of the Group, unusually with a negative goal-difference, but with two games still to go, they would have fancied their chances of qualifying for the Knock-out stages.

Jamil Ali came on for the exhausted Yasir in the 86th minute, with a valuable draw at that stage still looking possible, though clearly legs were becoming heavier and no less than 100 per cent effort would be needed to hold out a much fresher Hanoi FC.

Hanoi pressed and pressed and went close a few times, before the Fourth-Official signalled that there would be three minutes of time-added-on for interruptions in play.

Hanoi obviously believed they had Tampines on the ropes over the closing minutes of the game and had clearly gone for broke.

Those minutes of added time ticked away, but, with one minute left, Hanoi took advantage, after Sahil had lost the ball at the other end of the field.

The ball was played to their captain, bustling forward Hoang Vu Samson, a thorn in Tampines’ side all game and the big man got away down the left, with plenty of petrol left in his tank, to deliver a pass to Hanoi’s 74th minute substitute, Pham Van Thanh, who then rifled the ball
home for the winner, as Izwan tried valiantly to stop him in his tracks.

Izwan was left injured from the fruitless challenge and needed treatment to see out the game, which by then had insufficient time remaining for the Stags to snatch a belated equaliser.

For all the disappointment of missing out, coach Raab was in no mood to blame his players for the crucial loss, attributing that to the schedule his team had been handed that gave them three games in eight days, after a three-week lay-off.

“We now have to win our remaining two games (against Felda away and at home to Ceres) and hope that the other results go our way,” he said.

“We will need to focus more on the S.League if we don’t qualify and make it our aim to finish at least second (among the local teams) to qualify for the AFC Cup again next season.

“The injuries are a huge problem for us. Izwan took a bad knock and we’ll need to assess him before the next match on Saturday, but Madhu looks like being out for two weeks at least, as it’s a hamstring injury he’s suffered.

“We played as well as I’d hoped for, but in the end the difference was that Hanoi had more energy at the end of the game than we did and that’s no fault of my players.

Raab hoped that the players would take confidence from their overall good performance against a high-quality opponent who’d previously beaten them heavily and take that renewed self-belief into the remainder of their S.League matches this season.