Singapore Premier League • November 13, 2015
One Down, Two Matches To Go For Stags
Written by: Shawn Lim
Albirex Niigata (S) vs Tampines Rovers
(13 November, Friday, Jurong East Stadium)
Tampines Rovers will face their second last hurdle in their attempt to win the Great Eastern Yeo’s S.League title on the last day of the season when they visit Jurong East Stadium on Friday night to play Albirex Niigata (S).
Having crossed the first hurdle by beating Home United last week, the Stags will again need to ensure that a victory is the only outcome at the end of 90 minutes when they face the White Swans.
A draw or a loss against the Japanese side will officially mean that Tampines are out of the title race and will concede the title to leaders Brunei DPMM despite having a game left to play.
However, the Stags will have to take on the White Swans without influential players like captain Fahrudin Mustafic and Fabian Kwok, as both have reached their yellow cards limit.
Mustafic has been a rock in defence for Tampines throughout the season, while Kwok has shown that he can be a versatile player, after playing well in the right-back position against the Protectors.
Tampines coach V.Sundramoorthy is confident that his charges can carry out the job even without Mustafic and Kwok, as he feels his whole team is eager to fight to the end.
“Last two games of the season, we still have a chance,” asserted the 50-year-old after watching his side come from behind to beat the Protectors 3-2.
“Mid-season, everybody wrote us off, but I think there’s belief in the team..the boys are motivated and they want to go for the kill.
“Now, it’s about character..when we are down 2-1, they had the character to come back and fight to make the league more exciting.
“We have five days to go before we play Albirex and we should have recovered by then. If we can do something there, we can bring the title race to the last day of the season.”
Meanwhile, even though the White Swans are already out of the reckoning for the title, coach Tatsuyuki Okuyama is adamant they will not be doing the Stags any favours.
“As always, we are playing our best to win every game and the next game is very important for us, so we will do our best to win it,” Okuyama said after his side’s 2-1 win over Home.
Suspensions: Fabian Kwok, Fahrudin Mustafic (Tampines Rovers)
Key Men to Watch
Albirex Niigata (S): Atsushi Kawata
The 22-year-old took over leading the line upfront from Rion Taki against Home and unlike Taki, he looked comfortable in the role and even managed to get on the score sheet.
With main striker Shotaro Ihata still looking doubtful, Kawata is poised to fill in upfront again and will be looking to add on to his tally of seven goals this season
Tampines Rovers: Jufri Taha
The 30-year-old endured a torrid time against the Protectors and got on the wrong end of the scoresheet after scoring an own goal.
Faced with tricky White Swans players like Kawata, Taki and Fumiya Kogure, the defender will have to be on his toes all night if he wants to help his side achieve the crucial three points.
Albirex Niigata (S) – DWLLW
05/11/15 Home United 1-2 Albirex Niigata (S)
02/11/15 Albirex Niigata (S) 0-1 Courts Young Lions (S.League)
30/10/15 Warriors FC 1-2 Albirex Niigata (S) (S.League)
26/10/15 Albirex Niigata (S) 2-0 Geylang International (S.League)
19/10/15 Harimau Muda 1-1 Albirex Niigata (S) (S.League)
Tampines Rovers – WWDLW
08/11/15 Home United 2-3 Tampines Rovers (S.League)
05/11/15 Balestier Khalsa 4-3 Tampines Rovers (S.League)
02/11/15 Tampines Rovers 0-0 Warriors FC (S.League)
28/10/15 Brunei DPMM 0-1 Tampines Rovers (S.League)
20/10/15 Geylang International 1-4 Tampines Rovers (S.League)
Head to Head (S.League)
06/05/15 Tampines Rovers 0-0 Albirex Niigata (S)
07/03/15 Albirex Niigata (S) 0-1 Tampines Rovers
17/09/14 Tampines Rovers 0-0 Albirex Niigata (S)
25/08/14 Albirex Niigata (S) 2-2 Tampines Rovers
01/05/14 Tampines Rovers 1-1 Albirex Niigata (S)