Singapore Premier League • August 22, 2014

Stags Look To Keep Pace In Title Race


Tampines Rovers vs Tanjong Pagar United

(August 22, Friday, 7.30pm, Clementi Stadium)

Written by: Phoon Jia Hui

Tampines Rovers will be gunning for all three points to keep themselves in the title hunt when they take on Tanjong Pagar United at Clementi Stadium on Friday evening.

After a less-than-ideal start to the season, the reigning Great Eastern Yeo’s S.League champions have hauled themselves back up and are now within touch of leaders Brunei DPMM.

With 38 points, they are just two points off the Wasps in the standings.

Rafi Ali’s appointment as head coach – replacing outgoing Salim Moin – has turned things around for the team and they have responded well to his coaching methods, translating into performances on the pitch.

Utility man Ismadi Mukhtar is just one of those players who have benefitted from that and Rafi has reiterated time and again that he sees potential in the 32-year-old and is keen to see him fulfil that.

While Tampines go into this one as favourites on paper, they have to be wary and cannot take the Jaguars lightly.

As their showing in the StarHub League Cup has suggested, Patrick Vallee’s side have the ability to upset the odds and that was evident when they went all the way to the final of the aforementioned competition, only to lose to eventual winners DPMM.

However, their task will not be made easier as they will be without three key players through suspension and that could hurt their chances.

Kamel Ramdani and Monsef Zerka will both serve the first of a two-match ban after being sent off against Home United in their last game while defender Hafiz Osman sits out after picking up his seventh yellow of the campaign in the same game.

As such, it is imperative that the likes of Sebastien Etiemble and Firdaus Idros will have to step up their game in the trio’s absence as they try cause an upset.

Suspensions: Hafiz Osman, Kamel Ramdani, Monsef Zerka (Tanjong Pagar United)

Key Men To Watch

Tampines Rovers: Shahdan Sulaiman

Recently involved in the Singapore Selection-Juventus friendly, Shahdan did not disappoint as he put in a good shift in the heart of midfield with his accurate passing and playmaking ability.

He will hence be the key to unlocking the Tanjong Pagar defence and he has demonstrated against Woodlands Wellington in Week 19 that he is not only able to create, but score as well.

He scored one himself in the first half before laying a pass for Christopher Van Huizen late in the game for the latter to wrap up a 2-0 win over the Rams and successfully executed 83% of his passes in that game.

Tanjong Pagar United: Firdaus Idros

With the likes of Kamel Ramdani and Monsef Zerka suspended for this one, Firdaus will need to step up his game and prove himself.

The nippy winger – if he starts – will be a tricky customer for the Tampines backline with his tendency to run at the defence which can cause problems if not careful.

However, it is likely that the former Home United man will start from the bench and be brought on in the second-half to inject pace if needed.

Tampines Rovers – WWWLL

31/7/14    Woodlands Wellington 0-2 Tampines Rovers

24/7/14    Tampines Rovers 3-0 Balestier Khalsa (StarHub League Cup Plate Final)

19/7/14    Tampines Rovers 9-0 Police SA (StarHub League Cup Plate SF)

12/7/14    Tampines Rovers 2-3 Warriors FC (StarHub League Cup Group B)

7/7/14      Geylang International 2-1 Tampines Rovers (StarHub League Cup Group B)

Tanjong Pagar United – LLWWW

30/7/14    Tanjong Pagar United 1-2 Home United

25/7/14    Tanjong Pagar United 0-2 Brunei DPMM (StarHub League Cup Final)

21/7/14    Tanjong Pagar United (4P) 0-0 (2) Hougang United (StarHub League Cup SF)

18/7/14    Tanjong Pagar United (AET) 1-0 Warriors FC (StarHub League Cup QF)

13/7/14    Tanjong Pagar United 7-1 Police SA (StarHub League Cup Group A)

Head to Head (S.League)

25/4/14    Tanjong Pagar United 1-1 Tampines Rovers

26/10/13 Tampines Rovers 1-1 Tanjong Pagar United

20/9/13   Tampines Rovers 3-1 Tanjong Pagar United

5/5/13     Tanjong Pagar United 1-0 Tampines Rovers

20/7/12   Tanjong Pagar United 1-2 Tampines Rovers

15/3/12    Tampines Rovers 2-1 Tanjong Pagar United

8/9/11      Tampines Rovers 1-0 Tanjong Pagar United

30/5/11    Tanjong Pagar United 1-3 Tampines Rovers

10/3/11    Tampines Rovers 4-1 Tanjong Pagar United