Singapore Premier League • September 16, 2014

Stags’ Tricky Tie Against White Swans


Tampines Rovers vs Albirex Niigata (S)

(September 17, Wednesday, 7.30pm, Clementi Stadium)

Written by: Muhammad Yazid

After a three-week hiatus, Tampines Rovers and Albirex Niigata (S) resume their Great Eastern Yeo’s S.League title assault as they lock horns at Clementi Stadium on Wednesday evening in the first of the final five games of the season.

The two teams are separated by just one point in the league standings, with Tampines sitting in fourth on 39 points while Albirex are a spot above their opponents going into this fixture.

While they will be on homeground, the Stags will go into this game as underdogs.

The Stags are on a three-game winless streak, after losses to Tanjong Pagar United and Warriors FC was joined by a draw with Albirex to force them to drop points.

During the break, they were involved in a series of friendlies to keep themselves match-fit as Tampines played Papua New Guinea in one of those games which they won 2-1.

Albirex on the other hand are in for, having came from three goals down to beat Geylang International 4-3 in their last league encounter.

That result was a blip to their title hopes and Tampines coach Rafi Ali is well aware they cannot afford another slip-up, otherwise they can kiss goodbye to their hopes of retaining the championship.

One player Tampines will however have to keep an eye on will be forward Kazuki Sakamoto who has plundered 20 goals for the White Swans so far this season, just one behind current top scorer Rodrigo Tosi.

That said, Tampines will be gunning for all three points to return to winning ways and try to keep pace with leaders Brunei DPMM at such a crucial stage of the season.

A win would for any of them would ensure that they leapfrog the other and possibly sit on second place, if Warriors lose out to Balestier Khalsa.

Key Men To Watch

Tampines Rovers: Fahrudin Mustafic

They say the captain is the most influential player in any team, and it is no different in Tampines. Fahrudin has been wearing the armband for the whole season and performs his duties in the heart of defence, usually with Abdil Qaiyyim or Kunihiro Yamashita.

Whoever partners him in defence against Albirex is as always expected to live up to the ranks and it would not be a walk in the park for the Japanese side to break down a Tampines defence that has conceded only 22 goals so far.

According to InStat, 88% of his passes in the previous game against Warriors were accurate, which shows his competency in building-up plays from the back.

Albirex Niigata (S): Kazuki Sakamoto

Currently ‘tailgating’ Rodrigo Tosi in the goalscoring charts, only one goal separates both of them and Sakamoto has more than one objectives this season. One would most important bang in more goals to help his team win the title, and the other – to walk away with the top scorer award at the end of the season.

Tampines Rovers – LDLWW

29/8/14    Warriors FC 2-0 Tampines Rovers

25/8/14    Albirex Niigata (S) 2-2 Tampines Rovers

22/8/14    Tampines Rovers 0-1 Tanjong Pagar United

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

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


Albirex Niigata (S) – WDLWL

28/8/14    Geylang International 3-4 Albirex Niigata (S)

25/8/14    Albirex Niigata (S) 2-2 Tampines Rovers

21/8/14    Home United 4-2 Albirex Niigata (S)

1/8/14      Warriors FC 1-3 Albirex Niigata (S)

18/7/14    Geylang International 3-1 Albirex Niigata (S) (StarHub League Cup QF)

Head to Head (S.League)

25/8/14    Albirex Niigata (S) 2-2 Tampines Rovers

1/5/14      Tampines Rovers 1-1 Albirex Niigata (S)

1/11/13    Tampines Rovers 1-3 Albirex Niigata (S)

21/8/13    Tampines Rovers 3-3 Albirex Niigata (S)

19/4/13    Albirex Niigata (S) 1-2 Tampines Rovers

26/9/12    Tampines Rovers 3-4 Albirex Niigata (S)

19/4/12    Albirex Niigata (S) 1-0 Tampines Rovers

29/10/11  Albirex Niigata (S) 1-3 Tampines Rovers

15/5/11    Tampines Rovers 3-1 Albirex Niigata (S)

6/3/11       Albirex Niigata (S) 0-2 Tampines Rovers