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A win crucial to apply pressure on Albirex

PREVIEW: Tampines Rovers take on Warriors FC in an encounter at Our Tampines hub on Wednesday, 20th September. A win will take us to within 6 points of Albirex, and 10 ahead of Home United. 

Coming off a good win at Toa Payoh yesteday evening, The Stags are in good spirits and look set to continue their good form in September, scoring 10 goals and conceding just the single goal. Warriors might suggest a stiffer opponent, but with Fazrul (Nawaz) back on the scoresheet on Sunday, he is certainly looking sharper and would look to score Tampines the 3 points! 

With the team looking sharper towards the end of the season. 3 points on Wednesday will certainly apply pressure back on league leaders Albirex. With 6 games left to play, it’s all to play for! Who says the title race is over?

Join us as we take on the Warriors this Wednesday at Our Tampines Hub, 20th September, Kick-off 7.30pm.

Tickets will go on sale 5.45PM on Matchday.

Merchandise will also be available from 5.30PM

Fazrul Nawaz and Hafiz Sujad Return

By: Alia Harvey

Great Eastern-Hyundai S.League 2017

Warriors v. Tampines Rovers

22 June (Thursday), 8:30pm, Choa Chu Kang Stadium

Warriors will host us tonight at Choa Chu Kang Stadium, our second last league game this month of June. Fresh from a 3-1 victory over Balestier Khalsa on Saturday, we look to continue our winning streak as we face the Rhinos. With us on 24 points and Warriors with 20, we aim for nothing less than a win to prevent the Rhinos from being just a point behind us.

What’s our form at the moment?
After a 4-1 defeat to current leaders Albirex Niigata, we recovered well with a 3-0 victory over Hougang United before the international break, and resumed with yet another win over Balestier Khalsa.

Our Stags celebrating their 3-0 victory over Hougang United on 25 May.

Our victory on Saturday night brought us up to second place, with eight wins and three losses. Despite missing key players due to injury, we will no doubt be looking to extend our winning run against a strong and experienced Warriors side.

What’s Warriors’s form at the moment?
Having just lost 4-1 to Boeung Ket FC from Cambodia in the RHB Singapore Cup at the end of May, Warriors bounced back and resumed the league after the international break on a high. Shahril Ishak ensured his team walked away with all three points, scoring both goals in their 2-0 victory over Geylang International.

Despite missing key player Jordan Webb for a few games with injury, the Warriors have coped well and proved the depth and experience they have in their team. Jordan is said to be fit again to face us tonight, his club last season.

Past encounters with Warriors?
In our last 21 meetings, both teams are equally dominate with nine wins each. Three of our clashes have been draws. We were undefeated by Warriors last season in the league, but the Warriors ensured this wasn’t the case this year, and won 1-0 back in April. Our most exciting game last season would have to be our 4-2 victory over the Rhinos at Jurong West Stadium on 30 April.

Billy Mehmet opened the account in the 38th minute, before Hafiz Nor equalised just four minutes later. Ridhuan Muhammad’s goal in the 45th minute ensured the Warriors took a 2-1 lead at halftime. However, it wasn’t over for the Stags.

Star player Jermaine Pennant was substituted on for Christopher Van Huizen at halftime, and we saw first choice goalkeeper get a straight red in the 50th minute. Jermaine made an almost immediate impact, easily slotting home a penalty in the 54th minute to level the game.

Yazid receives a straight red card.

It was an even game for 20 minutes, with both sides equally getting chances, before returning Stags man Hafiz Abu Sujad made it 3-2. With a narrow one goal lead, Hafiz sealed the game for us in the 87th minute, scoring yet again, and allowing us to walk off 4-2 winners with all three points.

Hafiz celebrating his second goal in our 4-2 victory over Warriors.

The last time we faced Warriors?
When we faced Warriors back in April, we saw the returns of Ismadi Mukhtar and Madhu Mohana from suspension, but were missing Jamil Ali who had received a red card in our game before against Balestier Khalsa. The game ended 1-0 to the Warriors, with former Stags man Jordan Webb scoring the only goal of the game in the 28th minute, ensuring his new club secured all three points.

Jordan with Warriors for their game against us on 1 April

Team News?
Khairul Amri is still out with injury, and will miss tonight’s game against the Warriors. Madhu Mohana, who badly clashed with Balestier Khalsa player Jonathan Tan on Saturday, will also be out for tonight’s game against his former club.

Madhu will miss tonight’s game against his former club with injury.

However, we will see the return of Shakir Hamzah, who returns from his two-game suspension tonight. After nine months out, we will highly likely also see the return of Fazrul Nawaz tonight, who has been in training with us for nearly a month.

Fazrul with Tampines on 7 April 2016 against Balestier Khalsa.

Another piece of big news, is the return of Hafiz Sujad. Hafiz signed with us for the 2016 season, after the disbandment of LionsXII. We allowed him to leave us, and move to Thailand for to play for BBCU in the Thai League 2. With that club withdrawing from the league with immediate effect back in April, we signed Hafiz again when the S.League transfer window opened.

Hafiz with Tampines on 14 May 2016 against Home United.

During the transfer window, we also signed 23 year old defender Shannon Stephen, and 21 year old midfielder Ehvin Sasidharan.

How’s the S.League table looking?
Following our victory over Balestier Khalsa last Saturday, we moved back up to second place with 24 points. 2016 Champions Albirex Niigata sit comfortably at the top of the table, and remain undefeated, with 31 points. Home United trail us just a point behind at third. This evening’s opponents, Warriors, sit at fourth with 20 points. Geylang International are fifth with 14 points, and Hougang United are sixth with 13. Bottom three Balestier Khalsa, Brunei DPMM, and Garena Young Lions have still yet to make double digits, with six, four, and one points respectively, the same as last week.

Other S.League fixtures this week?
Garena Young Lions v. Balestier Khalsa [22 June, Jalan Besar Stadium]
Albirex Niigata v. Home United [23 June, Jalan Besar Stadium]

Tampines edge Geylang in tense derby encounter

Jamil Ali grabbed the only goal of the game to send Tampines Rovers back to winning ways.

Jamil Ali grabbed the only goal of the game to settle a tense Eastern derby as defending Champions Tampines Rovers strengthen their position at the of the Great Eastern Yeo’s S.League table.

The diminutive forward pounced, capitalizing on a rare mistake by Geylang International’s custodian Takuma Ito two minutes after the hour mark to settle the action packed affair.

It was all Geylang International in the opening minutes and it only took 27 seconds for the visitors to create the opening chance of the game. Yasir Hanapi did well to get down the right flank, before sending in a low drive only for Seiji Kaneko to turn it away for a corner. Had there been any green/white shirts inside the 18-yard box, it would be a huge blow to the hosts.

Geylang had been unbeaten in their last four fixtures, and they demonstrated that they’ve turned the corner after a poor start to the season. On fourth minute, Khairulnizam Jumahat fired a shot just wide from 20 yards before Taufiq Ghani forced Sasa Dreven into a fine stop. Four minutes later, the impressive Wahyudi Wahid fired just over the bar from inside the danger area after being set up by Yasir.

Credit has to be given to the Stags, for keeping their composure as Geylang had the intention of pressing them in their own half, and seemed to be hoping for them to commit a mistake that will lead to an early goal. Jufri Taha, Fahrudin Mustafic and Seiji Kaneko stood tall, and defended stoutly.

Tampines first opening came after eight minutes of play and Jamil Ali could only divert Imran Sahib’s cross from the right flank over the bar. Five minutes later, 42-year old Aleksandar Duric squandered the best chance Tampines had early on in the evening as he sent his shot straight at Takuma Ito. It was a three-prong attack (with Sead Hadzibulic and also Jamil Ali) adopted by Nenad Bacina and in some ways, it worked to perfection.

Hadzibulic’s header off Shaiful Esah’s cross from the left went straight to Ito after quarter of an hour gone, and Ito was again at his best to deny Hadzibulic two minutes later. Jamil, who was full or running and lively in the opening minutes sent in a low cross for his strike partner but Ito pulled off a magnificent reflex save to deny the number 10.

25 minutes into the game, Firdaus Kasman sent a beautifully struck effort just over the bar, with Ito already well beaten and the Stags continued to press. Despite the pace of the game dropping significantly after the half hour mark, the game was not lacking in action at all.

Geylang had the ball in the net seven minutes before the break, but Yasir’s effort was ruled out for an offside infringement – rightly so. Jozef Kaplan curled a shot goal wards two minutes later, but his effort couldn’t find the intended target.

Both teams went into the break deadlocked at 0-0 and Geylang had goalkeeper Takuma Ito to thank for keeping the score line as it is when they returned. Five minutes into the second period, Ito acrobatically denied Hadzibulic whose bullet header seemed destined for goal.

The miss of the game came two minutes before the hour mark and it was Tampines who were let off. Jozef Kaplan robbed Kaneko off the ball just outside the danger area but he could only fire his shot straight at Dreven, who was never in doubt in conceding any goal on the evening.

Yasir Hanapi had the ball in the net again on 60th minute, but again, his effort was chalked off for yet another offside infringement. Geylang were punished for not taking their chances two minutes later as a rare mistake on the night by Ito allowed Tampines to take the lead. Ito fumbled an effort off Kaneko and the rebound fell to Jamil who made no mistake from close range to grab the only goal of the game.

Geylang continued to press for an equalizer but Tampines’ set the pace of the game with the silky one-touch football frustrating the visitors for the remainder of the game. Imran Sahib thought that he had doubled the Stags’ lead, but his 84th minute goal was also chalked off by the match official due to another offside infringement – the third in this tense encounter.

Jamil had the opportunity to wrap things up, in the dying minutes of the game, but he was denied by the upright. The number 17 left three defenders for dead, before coming to a one-to-one situation with Ito, and while his effort beat Ito, the upright denied Jamil his double for the night.

Head Coach Nenad Bacina was pleased with his charges and praised every single one of his players who played their part in getting the team back onto winning ways.

“It is not easy to play against Geylang (International) as you can see. They have improved a lot since the opening game of the season which we beat them 5-0. Geylang is a good side, so it was not easy for us tonight” Bacina said.

“I would like to congratulate my players for the win. They worked very hard for it and this is the second game in the space of eight days with the third one coming up on Sunday,” he added

Bacina also hailed his side for their ability to turn pressure into points needed to extend their lead at the top of the table.

“For us, there is pressure for us to win. Everyone expects us to win such matches. The approach taken by the players is very pleasing to me and they put in the extra effort in tonight’s match,

“Five days ago, we were playing Tanjong Pagar (lost 1-0). During that game, we lost and we were down. But now with this, we are up there again. We have another tough game against Hougang (United) this Sunday so we need to recover well and do our best for that game,” he added

Tampines Rovers’ lead at the top of the table stands at two points, but the Stags have played one game lesser than their nearest rival, Albirex Niigata (S).

The rescheduled game between Tampines Rovers and Hougang United will take place on 12 May 2013, at the Clementi Stadium. Kick off is at 730pm. Fans who were at Clementi when this fixture was postponed due to bad weather conditions are advised to bring along your ticket stubs for re-entry to this game on Sunday.

Stags aim to get back to winning ways

Tampines can count on Shaiful Esah (left) and Martin Wagner (extreme right) to get the team back to winning ways. Photo: BP Chua

The latest edition of the Eastern derby that will take place on Thursday at the Clementi Stadium will have plenty of importance for both Tampines Rovers and Geylang International. The hosts will be looking to bounce back after suffering their first defeat in the 2013 Great Eastern Yeo’s S.League against Tanjong Pagar United on Sunday while the Eagles will be looking to extend their unbeaten run to five games.

In the past, Eastern derbies promised plenty of drama and action on the pitch and this one is believed to be no different. However, Stags’ head Coach Nenad Bacina has shared that it will be a completely different ball game against the Eagles this time round.

“Geylang have improved since the opening day of the season and they are on a good run (unbeaten in their last four) at the moment. It won’t be 5-0 (Tampines beat Geylang with that score line on the opening day of the season) like last time round with so many goals. They will come into this game with a different mood because they are doing well,” Bacina said during an interview with tampinesroversfc.com.

“Without two of their foreign players (Stefan Milojevic and Shotaro Ihata are nursing injuries), they have been doing relatively well. They are unbeaten in the last four matches, and I believe that they will put up a good fight against us,” he added.

Although feeling disappointed about his team’s unbeaten record in the league coming to an end after a 1-0 defeat by Tanjong Pagar United, Bacina revealed that his players are ready to put the defeat behind them, and will attempt to get back to winning ways again.

“In the last game, I thought we did well, but we just couldn’t convert the chances that we created. I don’t like to lose games, and that applies for my players too. We are not taking this defeat as a tragic one, instead, we will move on. We cannot cry over results like this. Losing is part and parcel of the game,” he revealed.

“The players will be going into this game with more desire than ever to win the game, and I believe that they will be able to put up a good performance on Thursday,” added the 42-year old.

There were positive news for Bacina as Shahdan Sulaiman and Ismadi Mukhtar have been passed fit to start training again. Shahdan had missed an entire week of football action with an illness while Ismadi missed the last four weeks of action due to injuries sustained in a traffic accident

“Shahdan is coming coming back. We have to understand that he had missed training for a week. He should be okay to play some part in the game, but I am not sure if he will start on Thursday, so we’ll see,” he said.

“Ismadi is also back after almost a month but we still cannot call on him at the moment or the next two to three games. We need to give him time to catch up on his match fitness,” he added.

The Stags are currently going through a period where they have to play three games in the span of eight days and with the tight scheduling, Bacina is expected to rotate his squad.

“The schedule is a bit tight, but we have to prepare first for tomorrow’s game before taking on Hougang United at the weekend. There may be some changes, but we will see how it goes. Right now, we are focused on Thursday’s game (against Geylang International).”

Stags gallant in defeat

Despite losing their last group game on Tuesday evening and failing to register a single win in their continental campaign, Tampines Rovers put up a spirited showing but were edged 2-3 by Malaysia’s Selangor at the Jalan Besar Stadium, which resulted in the Stags exiting from the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) Cup without a single victory.

Jufri Taha was unfortunate to divert a Shukor Jusoh’s cutback into his own net giving Selangor the lead just before the half hour mark. While the tie seemed headed for a 1-0 scoreline during the break, Malaysia international Amri Yahyah made it 2-0 for the visitors with a well-worked team goal that was set up by Raimi Md Nor on the stroke of half time.

The Stags pulled a goal back five minutes into the second period after Selangor’s skipper Asraruddin Putra diverted Firdaus Kasman’s cross into his own net to reduce the deficit. They then drew level after Peter Chrappan made a mess of his clearance – again off Shaiful Esah’s cross – and Aleksandar Duric capitalized on the situation, firing home the equalizer on 59 minutes.

Selangor had the last laugh, as Amri Yahyah recorded his second goal of the evening, in what could be one of the contenders for the goal of the tournament. Receiving a cross by Mahali Jasuli from the right off a deflection from Fahrudin Mustafic, Amri controlled the ball brilliantly before unleashing an unstoppable shot past Sasa Dreven from a tight angle.

It was the hosts that kicked off the game brightly, with Selangor seemingly contented to sit back and soak up the pressure. 10 minutes into the game, Ahmed Fahmie picked out Jamil Ali unmarked about 12 yards away from goal but the Stags forward sliced his shot, sending it over the cross bar.

Shaiful Esah was next in action when he sent a freekick just over the Selangor goal on 21 minutes as the Stags kept pressing for the all important opening goal.

Jamil almost sent the Stags into the lead when his misplaced attempt brought out an acrobatic save from Sharbinee Allawee. He was very lively throughout the opening period and he next set up Sead Hadzibulic who fired straight at the Selangor custodian from about eight yards out.

When you don’t take your chances, you will be punished. That was exactly what happened to the current S.League leaders as Shukor Jusoh’s cutback from the left was diverted into his own net by Jufri, allowing the visitors to draw first blood.

Jamil was then presented with an excellent opportunity to draw the Stags level. Receiving the ball from a deft flick by Hadzibulic, Jamil raced clear with only Sharbinee to beat but his cheeky lob over Sharbinee came back off the cross bar just seconds after Selangor had gotten their opening goal.

It was double blow for Tampines as Amri Yahyah struck on the stroke of half time. Michal Kubala found Raimi in the box with an excellent defense splitting pass before the latter squaring it for Amri to tap home from close range, doubling Selangor’s lead.

Tampines were crushed at this stage, and the team needed a response to this two-goal deficit.

The Stags showed character even when they were two goals down, and five minutes within the restart, they reduced the deficit. Firdaus Kasman’s cross from the left was diverted into his own goal in a communication mix-up with his custodian, and the Stags were back in the game.

Tampines kept pushing upfront and created plenty of openings in the next few minutes with Ahmed Fahmie, who was presented a rare start, coming close. His effort from inside the box was palmed away to safety by Sharbinee.

They were finally rewarded when Peter Chrappan made a mess of his clearance off Shaiful’s cross, to present Duric with a simple chance of stroking the loose ball into the net, leveling the score for the hosts a minute before the hour mark.

A minute later, Jamil’s fine run down the right saw him deliver a good centre for Duric, but Duric, under the pressure of Asraruddin headed the cross over the bar from four yards out.

The Stags had nothing to lose and pushed bodies up front in search of a winner. That resulted in holes at the back, and Selangor struck their third of the night through Amri Yahyah.

Mahali Jasuli’s cross from the right was deflected to the far post by Fahrudin, and Amri, who was lurking behind the Singapore international controlled the loose ball to perfection, before firing an unstoppable shot past Sasa Dreven from a tight angle to hand Selangor all three points needed for qualification into the next round after Saigon Xuan Thanh had lost earlier to East Bengal in India.