News • August 3, 2016
Title-Chasing Stags Set For Tricky Eagles Test
Written by: Ryan Low
Tampines Rovers vs Geylang International
(Thursday, 4 Aug, 7.30pm, Jurong West Stadium)
Tampines Rovers will be looking to close further ground on leaders Albirex Niigata (S) when they resume their 2016 Great Eastern Yeo’s S.League campaign by hosting Geylang International at the Jurong West Stadium on Thursday night.
For the longest time, it looked like Albirex will be running away with the title this season as they stringed together 10 successive victories to lead the table by seven points.
That was until they met Tampines in late June. The Stags pulled off a gritty 1-0 win to close the gap to just four points with one-third of the season left to go.
While they failed to win a first-ever League Cup, Akbar Nawas’ side should still be feeling pretty confident in their quest to knock Albirex off the perch.
Seven national team players – namely Izwan Mahbud, Afiq Yunos, Shakir Hamzah, Hafiz Sujad, Izzdin Shafiq, Yasir Hanapi and Fazrul Nawaz – have returned to bolster their options, while key man Jermaine Pennant should also be fit for action after being rested throughout the League Cup due to an Achilles problem.
Moreover, they have yet to taste defeat at their Jurong West den in seven matches this season.
A win will put the five-time champions one point within reach of Albirex and put the pressure on the White Swans, who face DPMM away in Bandar Seri Begawan the next day. However, they will need to be wary of a rising Geylang outfit.
The Eagles have endured a rather inconsistent league campaign and were against the odds in the League Cup due to several players away on international duty.
However, Hasrin Jailani somehow managed to galvanise his depleted squad as they edged a much more fancied Hougang United side 2-1 to win the Plate Trophy.
Mid-season signing Mark Hartmann has adapted to life in Singapore like how fish takes to water, while fringe players like Shawal Anuar, Isa Halim and Anders Aplin also managed some eye-catching displays.
That should give Hasrin some food for thought, with Syazwan Buhari, Faritz Hameed, Daniel Bennett, Safirul Sulaiman, Gabriel Quak and Sahil Suhaimi all available for selection once again.
Just a point behind third-placed DPMM, Home United and Hougang (all on 22 points), a top-three finish is not beyond question for Geylang. Thus they will need no further motivation to topple their rivals in what should be a much-anticipated ‘Eastern Derby’.
Tampines Rovers – WWWLL
26/07/16 Albirex Niigata (S) 4-0 Tampines Rovers (League Cup)
21/07/16 Brunei DPMM 2-1 Tampines Rovers (League Cup)
17/07/16 Warriors FC 0-3 Tampines Rovers (League Cup)
13/07/16 Tampines Rovers 6-4 Hougang United (League Cup)
02/07/16 Global FC 1-2 Tampines Rovers (Singapore Cup)
Geylang International – DLWWW
30/07/16 Hougang United 1-2 Geylang International (League Cup)
25/07/16 Geylang International 1-0 Warriors FC (League Cup)
22/07/16 Geylang International 1-0 Albirex Niigata (S) (League Cup)
18/07/16 Geylang International 0-5 Home United (League Cup)
14/07/16 Balestier Khalsa 2-2 Geylang International (League Cup)