News • January 26, 2016

Stags Kick-Off 2016 Campaign With Continental Action


Written by: Alex Weaver

Tampines Rovers will get their 2016 competitive season underway tomorrow evening in India against Indian Premier League Champions, Mohun Bagun AC (9.30pm Kick-Off SGT) in the AFC Champions League (ACL) Preliminary Round.

Tampines coach V Sundramoorthy will be looking to get a positive result at the Salt Lake Stadium in Kolkata, despite the road to the group stages of the tournament being a daunting one.

Should the Stags overcome the Indian side, they will face Shandong Luneng FC of China in the next round where success at that stage will mean a trip to Adelaide United of the A-League.

Having beaten Ashley Westwood’s Bengaluru FC to the India’s I-League title last year for the first time in their history (although they are four-time top division winners), Mohun Head Coach Sanjoy Sen will no doubt be confident of at least earning the right to face Shandong in the next round at the expense of the Stags.

Trinidad and Tobago striker Cornell Glen has started the 2016 I-League season in great form with three goals from four games and will be the main threat for Sanjoy’s men as they look to get the better of a defence lead by highly-rated Singapore International goalkeeper, Izwan Mahbud.

Tampines will be without new signing Jermaine Pennant, who was not registered in time for this round, but will still be able to field the other new additions to the club following a busy off-season period in the transfer market.

Besides Izwan in goal, the defence could contain Afiq Yunos, Irwan Shah, Ismadi Mukhtar, Shakir Hamzah or Fahrudin Mustafic, if he is not played in a deep midfield role.

The midfield will probably be run by the creative play of Shahdan Sulaiman alongside Izzdin Shafiq as the deeper of the two, while allowing the hardworking and attacking Yasir Hanapi to link up with the strikers.

They will be looking to provide sufficient service to the ever-dependable Fazrul Nawaz, Sufian Anuar and the talented Jordan Webb with Christopher van Huizen as an option from the bench.

Fans will be hoping to see Sundram’s team try to dominate possession and attack the Indian Champions as the Stags have arguably one of the strongest squads the S-League has entered in the competition.

However, it is very likely the away side will defend from deep positions and be cautious in their movement forward, given Pennant’s absence from the squad and it is the usual way of thinking for the coach of the away team in a fixture of this kind.

Irrespective of the final outcome of Tampines’ venture into the ACL, there is a extremely good chance that 2016 will see a Singaporean club do very well in Asia.

Tampines have a very strong squad and it is a squad that should be more than capable of handling the domestic programme in addition to the extra AFC games whether they are ACL qualifiers or, more realistically, a run beyond the group stages of the AFC Cup.