News Singapore Premier League • June 1, 2018

Singapore Premier League Preview: Young Lions with second bite at cherry against Tampines


Fazrul Nawaz has netted four times in his last five games.

SINGAPORE, 1 JUNE 2018Young Lions will travel to Our Tampines Hub (OTH) on 3 June, Sunday to face Tampines Rovers FC, just four days after suffering a 4-0 trouncing at their hands. The Great Eastern-Singapore Premier League (SPL) match will kick off at 8.30pm.

BACKGROUND Just four points separate both Young Lions and Tampines currently, with the former having played a game more.

But to say that there is not much difference between both teams would be folly – the gulf in class could not have been more apparent just four days ago, as an experienced Tampines side dished out a footballing lesson to the nation’s developmental side and thumped them 4-0.

What can be said though, is that the Young Lions are no longer whipping boys of the SPL.

After years of struggling at the bottom end of the table, Fandi Ahmad’s boys are actually giving the big boys in the league a run for their money.

They already have three wins in this season alone – the total amount of victories they earned in both the 2016 and 2017 season combined – and gave the Stags a tough fight in the previous round.

The Young Lions clearly showed fighting spirit and resilience then, but inexperience told and allowed late goals from Amirul Adli and Ryutaro Megumi to make certain of the result.

A chance to make up for that disappointing loss will now come quickly, but Fandi needs to solve his team’s defensive fragilities – they have failed to keep a clean sheet in their last seven games.

Conversely, Tampines have scored in all but three of their 15 matches across all competitions.

Tampines have history on their side too, with eight straight triumphs over their younger counterparts; the last three have been won by at least a three-goal margin.

Tampines will go into this game missing Shannon Stephen and Safirul Sulaiman, while Irfan Najeeb is still fighting to be fit.

Young Lions will still miss Jacob Mahler, Zulqarnaen Suzliman and Naqiuddin Eunos. There is expected to be some rotation as they play their fifth fixture in 17 days.

Tampines: LWLWW
Young Lions: LWDDL

30/05/18: Young Lions 0-4 Tampines – Singapore Premier League
28/10/17: Tampines 3-0 Young Lions – Singapore Premier League
12/09/17: Young Lions 0-4 Tampines – Singapore Premier League
23/04/17: Tampines 1-0 Young Lions – Singapore Premier League
15/10/16: Young Lions 1-3 Tampines – Singapore Premier League

Fazrul Nawaz – Tampines
Fazrul is hitting a purple patch with four goals in his last five matches. He is the ideal target-man who can hold the ball up long enough for his teammates to come into play, while his aerial strength is not to be sniffed at either.

Syahrul Sazali – Young Lions
One of the revelations this season, Syahrul is catching the eye with his no-nonsense tackles and bombarding runs forward. His pace will be an asset in trying to catch Tampines on the break and giving the Young Lions more bodies upfront.

Tampines forward Fazrul:
“It’s good to score three games in a row but I will take one game at a time. Whenever I get the opportunity to play, I will my best to give a good performance. Look at (Cristiano) Ronaldo or (Lionel) Messi, they are in their 30s. For me, age is just a number. It’s how you go into a game, take care of yourself and go in prepared.

“We need to take one game at a time, the pressure is on us because we have two games in hand now and we have to win them. Even then we can only hope to close the gap as much as we can, and hopefully Albirex (Niigata FC (S)) will lose some games.”

Young Lions Head Coach Fandi: “Everybody needs to be present at the game and we respected them too much (in the last game). We have got more injuries now so we have to start changing players. There are little things we need to polish up, that’s why I say, between the boys and the men, there is a lot of difference. We sometimes tend to defend too deep, our defenders can be slow at pushing up. They (Tampines) have advantage now psychologically.”

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