Singapore Premier League • February 11, 2022
2022 SPL Club Guide: Tampines Rovers
11 FEBRUARY 2022 – Ahead of the 2022 AIA Singapore Premier League (SPL) season, we take a look at each of the eight clubs that are participating in the 27th season of the domestic top flight. The third side to be profiled is Tampines Rovers!
Nickname: The Stags
Stadium: Our Tampines Hub
Highest finish: 1st (2004, 2005, 2011, 2012, 2013)
2021 finish: 4th
Chairman: Desmond Ong
Head coach: Gavin Lee
Captain: Yasir Hanapi
Foreigners: Kyoga Nakamura^ (Japan), Shuya Yamashita (Japan), Boris Kopitović (Montenegro), Zehrudin Mehmedović (Serbia)
Social media platforms: Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | TikTok
A poor run of form in the final stretch of the SPL last season, where they won once and lost six in their final 10 matches, meant that the Stags could only muster a fourth-place finish – 21 points behind champions Lion City Sailors.
Gavin Lee has kept the core of the side, notably retaining three foreigners, while letting the likes of Daniel Bennett, Baihakki Khaizan and Madhu Mohana depart. A focus on youth has continued – eight Under-23 players are registered, although experienced campaigners Firdaus Kasman and Christopher van Huizen have also been brought in.
Centre-back Shuya Yamashita, 22, was a key figure for Albirex Niigata (S) in 2021 and will be expected to form the bedrock of a young defence, with Under-23 internationals Ryaan Sanizal and Irfan Najeeb ready to step up. Irwan Shah remains a reliable presence, while Shameer Aziq will relish the opportunity to be back in football after missing the last two years.
Further ahead, Van Huizen is expected to fill the shoes of Armin Bošnjak, having signed from rivals Geylang International, while midfield trio Yasir Hanapi, Kyoga Nakamura and Zehrudin Mehmedović will be vital cogs in the engine. The sprinkling of youth stardust comes in the form of Iman Hakim, Marc Ryan Tan and Ong Yu En, who can expect to see many minutes. Boris Kopitović, who scored 16 times last season to finish as the league’s second-top scorer, will spearhead the attack with Taufik Suparno a capable deputy.
Tampines will also have to balance Asian Football Federation (AFC) Cup commitments with their Singapore Cup and league schedule, as Singapore’s second-most successful side looks to win their first league title since 2013.
Squad (as at time of publication)
Goalkeepers: Syazwan Buhari, Danial Iliya^, Sunny Tia^
Defenders: Ryaan Sanizal^, Shuya Yamashita, Shameer Aziq, Amirul Haikal^, Irwan Shah, Irfan Najeeb^
Midfielders: Iman Hakim^, Yasir Hanapi, Kyoga Nakamura, Zehrudin Mehmedović, Marc Ryan Tan^, Syed Firdaus Hassan, Firdaus Kasman, Christopher van Huizen, Ong Yu En^
Forwards: Boris Kopitović, Taufik Suparno
*All SPL clubs, excluding Albirex Niigata (S) and Young Lions, are allowed to register up to four foreign players; at least one has to be of an AFC Member Association (Asian) nationality. A maximum of four foreign players can be named or fielded in any one match.
^Indicates Under-23 player (born on or after 1 January 1999) of Singaporean nationality. All SPL clubs, excluding Young Lions, are required to field a minimum of one such player during the entire first half of every match. All clubs, except Albirex Niigata (S) and Young Lions, may also include a maximum of five players from their Centre of Excellence (COE) Under-21 Team, either in the starting line-up or as a substitute, provided it does not contravene any of the other Competition Rules.