Singapore Premier League • May 1, 2014

White Swan’s Test for Stags’ Interim Coach Rafi


Tampines Rovers vs Albirex Niigata (S)

(May 1, Thursday, 7.30pm, Clementi Stadium)

Written by: Muhammad Yazid

Tampines Rovers face another tough match at home, this time welcoming the White Swans to the Clementi Stadium, after coach Salim Moin left the club over the weekend.

The 52-year-old was only appointed as head coach for Tampines at the start of this season, but he parted ways with the giants after getting knocked out of the AFC Cup and sliding down the S.League table after lacklustre performances.

He has been replaced by assistant coach Rafi Ali, who will take charge as interim coach till the club finds a new replacement.

The Stags have only won one out of their last six games in all competitions, as a series of poor performance undermined their objectives to gain results.

They got defeated by Woodlands Wellington before getting knocked out of the AFC Cup group stages by Nay Pyi Taw.

There is no doubt Albirex Niigata (S) will try to capitalise on Tampines’ struggles and earn a positive result to move up higher in the top half of the table.

Albirex have a very patient style of play, and their ability to stroke the ball around without any pressing need to pump it up front has been frustrating most opponents, as they are unable to see much of the ball.

However, as the thrashing by Warriors FC showed weeks ago, Albirex are suspects in defense, and the deadly trio of Noh Alam Shah, Miljan Mrdakovic and Aleksandar Duric might just sneak in a goal with any chance they get.

That said, Albirex are no slouches in attack as well, with their frontman Kazuki Sakamoto among the top-scorers in the league.

But he is the only real threat as far as the Stags are concerned, and the rest of his teammates need to step up and chip in with their share of goals.

Hoping to stay in form after a 4-2 win over Home United, this should be an intriguing battle to see if the White Swans will come out on top.

Key Men To Watch

Tampines Rovers: Hyrulnizam Juma’at

Arguably the only player who was on top of his games despite the recent run of poor form, Hyrulnizam never settles for anything less than a win for his team.

The custodian has been pulling off top-class saves throughout the season, especially against Nay Pyi Taw and Tanjong Pagar United.

His reflexes are not giving opponents the confidence to shoot from long range, however his command at the back.

Albirex Niigata (S): Kazuki Sakamoto

The Japanese accounts for 50% of the goals Albirex has scored so far. That is how much of an impact Sakamoto has on the Japanese side with his creativity and threat in the final third.

Currently being the White Swans’ top-scorer, the forward will want to put on his scoring boots against a side which is struggling to put out a decent run of form.

Tampines Rovers – DLLWL

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

22/4/14    Tampines Rovers 0-1 Nay Pyi Taw (AFC Cup)

18/4/14    Tampines Rovers 1-2 Woodlands Wellington

13/4/14    Tampines Rovers 3-0 Balestier Khalsa

8/4/14      Kitchee SC 4-0 Tampines Rovers (AFC Cup)

Albirex Niigata (S) – WLWWD

27/4/14    Albirex Niigata (S) 4-2 Home United

16/4/14    Albirex Niigata (S) 0-4 Warriors FC

10/4/14    Courts Young Lions 1-2 Albirex Niigata (S)

4/4/14      Albirex Niigata (S) 2-1 Tanjong Pagar United

26/3/14    Woodlands Wellington 1-1 Albirex Niigata (S)

Head to Head (S.League)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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