News Singapore Premier League • May 18, 2018
Singapore Premier League Preview: Albirex look to storm Fortress Tampines
Jordan Webb is a key Tampines Rovers FC figure.
SINGAPORE, 18 MAY 2018 – Tampines Rovers FC need a win in the Great Eastern-Hyundai Singapore Premier League (SPL) over the seemingly unstoppable Albirex Niigata FC (S) to prevent them from pulling further away as both sides face off at Our Tampines Hub (OTH) on Sunday, 20 May. The match kicks off at 8.30pm.
BACKGROUND The standings do not make for good reading for second-placed Tampines at the moment, with Albirex ahead of them by a massive 14 points, albeit having played three more games.
Despite making wholesale changes to their squad for the 2018 season, Albirex are still dominating the field with the likes of Shuhei Hoshino and rising star Singaporean Adam Swandi among their top performers.
Hoshino has averaged a goal a game so far, while Adam is proving to be the creative fulcrum of his team with a team-high four assists.
With a perfect record from eight games, the White Swans are well on their way to claim supremacy yet again – unless Tampines start to mirror their form.
That is easier said than done though. The Stags are on a seven-game losing streak against the White Swans in all competitions, with their last win coming on 26 October, 2016.
Juergen Raab’s men will at least go into this game feeling fresh, having played their last match more than two weeks ago thanks to last weekend’s clash against Home United FC being postponed.
Tampines were previously hampered by a hectic schedule due to AFC Cup commitments, resulting in Tampines playing 12 games at this stage of the season.
They are also unbeaten in their last eight matches at OTH, winning six of those – including the last three in a row.
Albirex on the contrary will be playing their fourth game in the space of two weeks and their exertions might affect their ability to perform optimally.
TEAM NEWS Albirex will miss the services of centre-back Shun Kumagai as he continues on his road to recovery from a meniscus tear.
However, they can count on the possible return of captain Wataru Murofoshi, who was rested in Albirex’s 3-1 win over Young Lions in their last match.
Their opponents will have to cope without Khairul Amri, who is serving the first of his two-game suspension. Irwan Shah and Safirul Sulaiman are also fighting a race against time to be fit, while Stephen Shannon remains a long-term absentee.
26/02/17: Albirex 2-1 Tampines – Singapore Premier League
19/08/17: Albirex 4-0 Tampines – League Cup
13/08/17: Albirex 2-0 Tampines – Singapore Cup
10/08/17: Tampines 1-5 Albirex – Singapore Cup
21/05/17: Tampines 1-4 Albirex – Singapore Premier League
KEEP AN EYE OUT FOR
Jordan Webb – Tampines
With Amri out, the onus will fall on Tampines’ foreign signing Jordan Webb to deliver the goods. Blessed with pace and an eye for goal, the Canadian will be a thorn in the side of the Albirex defence.
Adam Swandi – Albirex
If the last few games are anything to go by, Adam has truly assimilated into the White Swans’ set-up. The Singaporean is linking up well with his forwards, spraying passes to them and getting into scoring positions himself.
WHAT ELSE THEY SAID
Tampines forward Webb: “When you play a game, you can’t go into the game thinking about the last. You can’t change the past (the 2-1 opening day loss to Albirex). It is it what it is, we have to go out and play our game and hopefully get a win, because that’s what we have to do.
“We are going there with a mindset to win the game. Every team is a different challenge, for us we are going to win the game, it doesn’t matter if it’s Hougang (United FC) or Albirex. We just want to take one game at a time and whoever is up next, we have to get a result. They have 24 points but we have three games in hand so we have to win all our games.”
Albirex Head Coach Kazuaki Yoshinaga: “After eight games you can see that we do not really vary our play against different opponents, but of course we do make some adjustments and we will always play to win.”
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