Young Tampines Rovers fan Arif Surathi is optimistic that his side can reclaim the title which they last won in 2013, after adding several classy players to their ranks in the off-season.
Tampines have not played in Singapore’s east since 2011 due to works at the old Tampines Stadium, but there are still loyal supporters of the Stags who hail from that area, such as 15-year-old Arif Surathi.
“I support Tampines simply because I stay in Tampines,” he told FourFourTwo. “I started supporting in 2011 when they were still playing at the Tampines Stadium before it was torn down.
“There have been so many memories supporting this club, but the best belong to the 2013 season. That’s where the ‘Yellow Brigade’ was formed and this group of supporters came out of nowhere.
“It’s great to be part of this group as it helps to garner more support for people to support the team, as well as keep the players motivated during the matches.”
Year 2015 was one of heartbreak for many Tampines supporters including Arif, with the team being pipped to the title on the final day by Brunei DPMM.
“To see the team coming so close yet so far was definitely a sad feeling,” he reflected. “It was such a close gap between Tampines and DPMM, so I really thought we had a great chance to win the title.
“I felt the team worked very hard to come back into contention after quite a poor start and it’s already an achievement to finish second.”
It’s a good choice to keep Sundram for another year. He has great experience from coaching the Young Lions and LionsXII.
Despite ending the year without silverware, the board remains confident in head coach V Sundramoorthy’s abilities as he has been handed the reins for a second successive season – something Arif supports.
“For me, it’s a good choice to keep Sundram for another year,” he said. “He has great experience from coaching the Young Lions and LionsXII in the past, so I believe he has the ability to make us into a great side again.”
Tampines have massively strengthened in the off-season, with the arrival of nine LionsXII players, last season’s top local scorer Fazrul Nawaz, as well as former Liverpool winger Jermaine Pennant.
Thus Arif believes there is nothing to stop them from romping to the title this time round.
“Definitely everyone can see we have such a strong squad this season,” he said. “With a player like Pennant joining us, it’s definitely going to attract a lot of fans down to the stadium to support the team.
“That can only be positive for us for this important season. After the lessons of last season, I’m sure Tampines wants to win the title badly and I’m sure this squad has all it takes to pull this feat off.”
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