S.League | Jalan Besar Stadium | Fri 13 May | 7.45pm
A mouthwatering clash.
It’s funny how winning one game can completely change how a club is perceived. After falling to Bangladeshi side Sheikh Jamal in the AFC Cup and then stumbling to a draw at Hougang United, there were concerns that all might not be well at Tampines Rovers.
Tampines Rovers Form
- 10/05/16 Tampines 1-0 Selangor FA (AFC Cup)
- 04/05/16 Hougang United 1-1 Tampines (S.League)
- 30/04/16 Tampines 4-2 Warriors FC (S.League)
- 26/04/16 Sheikh Jamal 3-2 Tampines (AFC Cup)
- 21/04/16 Geylang International 0-1 Tampines (S.League)
Home United Form
- 29/04/16 Home 3-2 Hougang United (S.League)
- 22/04/16 Warriors FC 1-2 Home (S.League)
- 15/04/16 Geylang International 2-2 Home (S.League)
- 08/04/16 Home 0-3 Albirex Niigata (S) (S.League)
- 03/04/16 Balestier Khalsa 0-1 Home (S.League)
But victory over Selangor FA on Tuesday at the National Stadium to seal qualification to the next round in the AFC Cup means suddenly everything looks bright and cheery again for the Stags.
Tampines have taken seven points from their last three league games but they face a Home United side keen to embark on their own resurgence.
The Protectors - ten of whom incidentally also beat a Selangor outfit on Saturday - are looking for a third consecutive win, which would vault them up from sixth to third in the table.
Having played their last three games at the Jalan Besar Stadium, it seems like the pitch is a bit more suitable to the Protectors’ style of play – keeping the ball on the ground and moving it quickly and neatly.
Fatigue will likely be a factor for both sides and how they deal with it could have an influence on what should be an exciting showdown.
Jordan Webb has not made the last three Tampines squads and looks unlikely to feature here again, while Jermaine Pennant limped off against Selangor.
The former Liverpool man, who scored an exquisite free-kick last time out against Home, could start from the bench. Fabian Kwok made his return from injury at the National Stadium and will boost V. Sundramoorthy’s options.
Home are a bit more affected on the injury front. Ang Zhi Wei and R. Aaravin continue to be sidelined as they have been for the whole season so far, while Nur Hizami Salim is injured as well.
Versatile midfielder Zulfahmi Arifin and targetman Khairul Nizam will join them in being ruled out. This potentially opens up a space in midfield for the likes of Syahiran Miswan and Shamil Sharif to feature.
Key Battle: Yasir Hanapi vs Song Ui-young
Fresh off scoring a wonderful winner against Selangor, Yasir Hanapi will look to run the show against his former club. The central midfielder is one of the more under-rated players in the league but he is one of the first names on the teamsheet.
The 26-year-old Singapore international is more than capable of picking out a pass and is a goal threat as well, with four goals in all competitions - three more than he managed last season.
Yasir is also adept at making late runs into the box, which is something that Song Ui-young will have to keep an eye on in his task to shut down the Tampines midfield.
The South Korean has had an excellent start to the season and looks to have taken his game up another notch. The dynamic midfielder covers every blade of the grass and never stops running, with his astute positioning key to breaking up opposition attacks.
At the other end of the pitch, Song has also improved his finishing and already has two very well-taken strikes under his belt. The unassuming 22-year-old is a vital cog in the Home machine and could well give them a crucial edge in the middle of the park.
V. Sundramoorthy is a shrewd tactician who will take victories in any way he can get them. It will also not be surprising to see some rotation and tactical changes given they just played on Tuesday.
Tampines have scored more than one goal in just seven out of 17 games this season, so it is fair to say they do not exactly go all out to attack teams.
His counterpart Philippe Aw has largely stuck to the same philosophy of pass-and-move positive football that aims to entertain, since taking over the reins.
One can usually expect plenty of quick, sharp combinations between players and Home appear to have gotten more clinical in recent weeks. However, defensive errors continue to haunt them and Aw will hope his charges cut those out as soon as possible.
Past five meetings
- /03/16 Home 1-1 Tampines (S.League)
- 08/11/15 Home 2-3 Tampines (S.League)
- 17/05/15 Tampines 3-0 Home (S.League)
- 13/03/15 Home 2-0 Tampines (S.League)
- 02/10/14 Home 0-1 Tampines (S.League)
Facts and Figures
- Tampines have the most number of different scorers in the league, with 10 players having found the net so far.
- Seven Tampines players have hit the woodwork in the league, the most amongst all clubs.
- Billy Mehmet leads Tampines in both goal-scoring and assists in the league (four each).
- Both teams have scored in the final ten minutes on three occasions each; Tampines and Albirex are the only two sides not to have conceded in this period.
- Home have not won three consecutive league games since June 2014.
- Ken Ilsø has scored in each of his last three games for Home and has five goals in his last six.
Tough call but Home can pull off a big win here. 2-1 to the Protectors.
Photos: Weixiang Lim / FourFourTwo