News Singapore Premier League • September 13, 2018

Singapore Premier League Preview: Adli focused on Tampines’ ACL bid as tough Balestier test looms


Adli has transformed into a more dynamic midfielder this season.

SINGAPORE, 13 SEP 2018A surprise exclusion from Fandi Ahmad’s first Singapore squad after a standout season, Amirul Adli wants to turn disappointment into strength as he eyes a successful end to the campaign with Tampines Rovers FC. The Stags host Balestier Khalsa FC at Our Tampines Hub as the Great Eastern Hyundai Singapore Premier League (SPL) resumes on Saturday evening, 15 September. Kick-off is at 5.30pm.

BACKGROUND Previously known as a central defender or defensive midfielder, Adli has transformed into a box-to-box midfielder with the ability to shoot from range under the tutelage of Jurgen Raab at Tampines.

With four goals and two assists this term, the 22-year-old is keen to brush aside the setback of not being called up during the recent international break and focus on helping Tampines finish the season on a high note.

“To not be in the (Singapore) squad after a good season is definitely disappointing, but at the same time it just shows how much quality there is in the team and that is a very positive thing,” Adli reasoned.

“I’m not worried about it because Coach Fandi (Ahmad) definitely knows what’s best for the team. When the time is right and when he feels I’m ready to be in the team, I’ll make sure I give my best and take the opportunity.

“In the meantime, I’m focused on working harder improving myself and my game play. There are still a lot of things I need to work on.”

The Stags face a tough fight to make it into the AFC Champions League (ACL) preliminary round for a fourth straight year as the best-placed local team. They are currently locked on 36 points, albeit with a better goal difference with three games left to play.

Next up for Raab’s men is a gritty Balestier side that are unbeaten in their last five matches in all competitions – including overcoming Geylang International FC 1-0 over two legs to progress into the RHB Singapore Cup semi-finals.

Forward Hazzuwan Halim, who scored the decisive late penalty to defeat the Eagles in the second leg, had more reason to celebrate with the arrival of his baby boy two days after the match.

The first-time father is understandably ecstatic as he looks to continue his good run of form lately. After an uncertain start to the season, he is now churning up good numbers – with five goals and six assists across two competitions.

“I really can’t believe I’m already a father of one child and I feel really blessed with the addition of my baby boy,” said the 24-year-old. “His arrival is definitely going to make me work extra harder to achieve what I want in my football career.

“It’s normal that when you get to play more regularly, your confidence level and form increases. The team and I have been working so hard, that’s why we’re in a better position (sixth) that last year (seventh). We’re confident that we can continue to surprise and for sure, we’re working hard to win the Singapore Cup.”

For Tampines, anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) victims Shannon Stephen and Safirul Sulaiman are out for the rest of the campaign while Canadian midfielder Jordan Webb is suspended.

As for Balestier, Raihan Rahman and Sharin Majid will similarly play no further part this season due to ACL injuries, while defender Nurullah Hussein is suspended.

The good news for the Tigers is that midfielder Huzaifah Aziz is cleared to play after settling his fine for accumulating 10 yellow cards.

Tampines: WWLWL
Balestier: WWDDW

30/06/18: Balestier 2-5 Tampines – Singapore Premier League
02/05/18: Tampines 1-0 Balestier – Singapore Premier League
17/09/17: Balestier 0-1 Tampines – Singapore Premier League
14/07/17: Balestier 3-0 Tampines – League Cup
17/06/17: Tampines 3-1 Balestier – Singapore Premier League

Zulfadhmi Suzliman – Tampines
One of three Tampines players who were called up to the Singapore National Team, Zulfadhmi impressed many with his sparkling display on his international debut in the 1-1 draw against Mauritius last Friday. The fleet-footed winger will be looking to continue where he left off as he switches back to club duties and will likely come up against a good test in Fadli Kamis.

Shaqi Sulaiman – Balestier
It has been a season of breakthroughs for Shaqi, who has started 13 games across two competitions for the Tigers and could have clocked more appearances if not for an injury lay-off midway through. Looking assured at the heart of the Tigers defence so far, the 19-year-old will now gauge his abilities against one of Singapore’s top forwards in Khairul Amri.

Tampines midfielder Adli:
“Every day, I’m looking at how I can improve my game and become a better player. I listen to people around me, giving me advice and tips on what I can work and add on about my game, so that’s the result of learning from them. I try to do extra things that in the past I rarely do and keep working on it in training again and again.

“In Tampines, we always aim for the highest – right now that’s second place and the Singapore Cup. It’s definitely the icing on the cake to end the season by achieving both targets.”

Balestier forward Hazzuwan Halim: “I’m happy with the results that we’ve achieved this year, but I still think we can still do much, much better. The club is much more organized than last year… we have good foreign players and there is a strong bond between the players.

“Let’s end the season well – try to get over Warriors FC for fifth or win the Singapore Cup. It will be great to make it into the AFC Cup for next year.”

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