Stags Ready To Win Again

By: Alia Harvey

Great Eastern-Hyundai S.League 2017

Tampines Rovers v. Balestier Khalsa

17 June (Saturday), 8:30pm, Jurong West Stadium

We will host Balestier Khalsa tomorrow night at Jurong West Stadium, our second last game at our temporary home ground. Before the international break, we ended on a high in the league against Hougang United by earning a well deserved three points, and are looking to resume the league with a bang.

What’s our form at the moment?

We played our last league game three weeks ago due to the international break, which saw eight of our players called up to the National Team. Our Lions have played against Myanmar, Chinese Taipei, and Argentina, whilst our own Stags played a friendly against Kembangan United, and won 3-1. We have been performing well in the league with seven wins out of our ten games played, but we will find out tomorrow night the current form of our team after this long break.

What’s Balestier Khalsa’s form at the moment?

The Tigers’ first choice goalkeeper, Zaiful Nizam, was the only player called up for the Lions during the international break. Whilst we are unaware of whether they played friendlies during this break, the Tigers have lost eight of their ten games played this season, and are currently on a five-game losing streak in the league. However, this long break has given Balestier the chance to refocus with only Zaiful away, and we look forward to the exciting encounter tomorrow evening.

Current Stags man, Fazli Ayob, for Balestier Khalsa last season.

Past encounters with Balestier Khalsa?
In our last 27 meetings, we are clearly the more dominate side, having won 18 games, and lost five. Four of our clashes have been draws. Last season in the league, we beat the Tigers all three times we faced them. Balestier’s last win against us was on 5 November 2015, a game that saw the Tigers walk out 4-3 winners at Toa Payoh Stadium. Our most exciting encounter with the Tigers would have to be on 15 June 2013 in the League Cup, a game that had to go to penalties after ending 3-3.

Ismadi Mukhtar scored an own goal only two minutes into the game, before Aleksandar Duric made it one-all. Kim Min-Ho took the lead again for Balestier, before Khairul Amri equalised for the Stags. We took the lead and went 3-2 up in the 77th minute when Balestier’s Jaslee Hatta scored an own goal, but Zulkifli Hassim saved his team scoring the equaliser just four minutes later. Balestier ended up winning the game 7-6 on penalties.

We beat the Tigers 3-2 at Jalan Besar Stadium on 17 June 2016, and are looking to grab all three points tomorrow, as we did on the same day last year.

The Stags celebrate their 3-2 victory over the Tigers on 17 June 2016.

The last time we faced Balestier Khalsa?

The last time we faced the Tigers, we missed Ismadi Mukhtar and Madhu Mohana who were still serving their suspensions from the red cards they received against Albirex Niigata, but saw Yasir Hanapi return from his one-game suspension. Through Ivan’s goal in the 50th minute, the game ended 1-0 to us. The clash also saw Jamil Ali receive a red card against his former team in the 90th minute.

What has the head coach said ahead of tomorrow night’s clash?
Juergen Raab: It is not easy for us because after this long break, where eight players were not with us, it’s been a long time now. We had only three, maybe two, days to come together and prepare for this match, and it’s not so easy. I hope we can manage this. We know Balestier is a team that is not easy to play as they have good spirit and attitude, and it’s normal that we want to win this match.

Ivan Dzoni gave the Stags all three points in our 1-0 victory over the Tigers on 11 March 2017.

Team News?

Four of our eight players who were called up to the National Team for international duty will miss tomorrow night’s game. Izwan Mahbud is out with a hamstring injury, whilst Khairul Amri is recovering. Yasir Hanapi, who we’d hope would play his last game with us tomorrow before leaving for PDRM FA, is unfortunately out as well with injury. After receiving a straight red against Albirex Niigata, Shakir Hamzah will miss tomorrow night’s game against the Tigers through suspension. Daniel Bennett, Madhu Mohana, Fahrudin Mustafic, and Shahdan Sulaiman are fit to play tomorrow night.

Joey Sim is currently injured, meaning both our first and second choice keepers will miss this clash against the Tigers. Third choice Haikal Hasnol, who has been featuring regularly for our U21s in the Prime League, will likely make his debut for the first team tomorrow evening. Fazrul Nawaz is back in training and recovering, but is not registered for the league. On Balestier’s side, Huzaifah Aziz and Sheikh Abdul Hadi are suspended tomorrow night.

How’s the S.League table looking?
As we return to league action, Albirex Niigata sit top of the table with 28 points with nine wins and one draw, making them the only team that has yet to be defeated this season. Home United are second with 23 points, whilst we trail them on third with 21 points. The Dragons and us are tied with an equal number of seven wins each this season. Warriors and Brunei DPMM still have a game in hand, whilst the other clubs have played ten matches so far this season. Warriors sit fourth with 17 points, with Geylang International not far behind at fifth with 14 points, and Hougang United just a point behind the Eagles at sixth. Bottom three Balestier Khalsa, Brunei DPMM, and Garena Young Lions have yet to make double digits, with six, four, and one point respectively.

Other S.League fixtures this week?
Geylang International v. Warriors [16 June, Jalan Besar]
Albirex Niigata v. Brunei DPMM [16 June, Jurong East]

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