Singapore Premier League • March 29, 2018

Great Eastern Community Shield Preview: Albirex Niigata FC (S) vs Tampines Rovers FC


L-R: Tampines Rovers FC defender Amirul Adli and Head Coach Juergen Raab with Albirex Niigata FC (S) Head Coach Kazuaki Yoshinaga and captain Wataru Murofushi at the pre-match press conference.

SINGAPORE, 29 MARCH 2018 The Great Eastern Community Shield kicks off this Saturday, 31 March at the National Stadium, Singapore Sports Hub between Albirex Niigata FC (S) and Tampines Rovers FC. The match also serves as the first fixture of the new Singapore Premier League and starts at 5.30pm (tickets available HERE) We take a look at both teams…

Background There will be a tinge of familiarity as Albirex seek to rewrite history again by sweeping all available domestic trophies for a third consecutive season.

The White Swans conquered all comers in 2016 and 2017 by claiming the Community Shield, Singapore Cup, League Cup and league.

Head coach Kazuaki Yoshinaga has returned for a second season but will have to contend with a revamped squad, with only winger Hiroyoshi Kamata and veteran goalkeeper Yosuke Nozawa retained.

Their opponents in the Community Shield will be Tampines, who are already in full swing thanks to their participation in the AFC Cup.

Team news Albirex have a fully fit squad to choose from while Tampines defender Shannon Stephen has been ruled out for the whole season. Jordan Webb will be fit to play as well.

Form guide
Albirex: WWWWW
Tampines: LDLLL

Previous meetings
19/08/2017 – Albirex 4-0 Tampines (League)
13/08/2017 – Albirex 2-0 Tampines (Singapore Cup)
10/08/2017 – Tampines 1-5 Albirex (Singapore Cup)
21/05/2017 – Tampines 1-4 Albirex (League)
26/02/2017 – Albirex 2-1 Tampines (League)

Keep an eye out for..
Adam Swandi – Albirex 
The Singapore international will become one of the first two Singaporeans to don an Albirex jersey after changes to the league regulations meant that the reigning champions were allowed to sign local Under-23 footballers.

No stranger to the big stage, Adam proved his worth last season with seven goals in 31 appearances for Home United.

He already has six senior caps for the National Team and with the Asean Football Federation (AFF) Suzuki Cup happening this year, the 22-year-old will be out to stake a claim in V. Sundram Moorthy’s squad.

Yasir Hanapi – Tampines
Yasir plied his trade in the Malaysian Premier League with PDRM FA last season before returning to the Stags for the upcoming campaign.

Renowned for his high work-rate and ability to run the show from midfield, it remains to be seen if he will be used as a false nine like how was deployed against Maldives and Chinese Taipei during international duty.

It is likely that Tampines will push him back into a midfield role especially in the absence of playmaker Shahdan Sulaiman, who is on loan at Melaka United for the rest of the season.

What else they said.. Albirex Head Coach Kazuaki Yoshinaga: “This year is also a special occasion because it is the 15th anniversary of Albirex in Singapore, so we hope we can commemorate it with a good start to the season (by winning).

Albirex Captain Wataru Murofushi: “This is the first time many members of the team are playing in Singapore; we are very nervous but also very excited.”

Tampines Head Coach Juergen Raab: “I know it will be a tough match… It was a really nice match with high quality and intensity last season and I expect it’ll be the same this year.”

Tampines defender Amirul Adli on having experienced team-mates and Coach: “I’ve settled down quite fast (since joining this year) thanks to them. Being in an environment that wants to succeed at every single game and training is a pleasure for me because I want to excel.”