Match Previews

Garena Young Lions vs Tampines Rovers: Can hosts hold out against superior forces?

S.League | Jalan Besar Stadium | Sun 3 Apr | 7.30pm

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GYL Form

  • Home United 4-1 GYL (S.League)
  • GYL 1-3 Hougang United (S.League)
  • GYL 0-2 Warriors (S.League)
  • GYL 0-2 Geylang International (S.League)
  • GYL 0-5 Albirex Niigata (S) (S.League)

A David and Goliath battle as the Stags, led by Jermaine Pennant, prepare to dominate their inexperienced opponents.

The lowdown

When Tampines Rovers go to battle against the Garena Young Lions (GYL) on Sunday, describing the fixture as a men versus boys clash is not too far-fetched given a side which contributes the core of the Singapore national team will be facing off against what is essentially a team made up of the country’s best up-and-coming players.

The Young Lions started the season promisingly with a shock victory but it has all gone pear-shaped for them since. One insipid display after another, with the latest coming against Home United in a 4-1 defeat, has left plenty to be desired.

With the exception of Hami Syahin and Fareez Farhan, the rest of the squad have been a let-down and have not quite taken to the rigours and aptitude needed for the S.League.

Such a match against the exciting triumvirate of Billy Mehmet, Jordan Webb and Jermaine Pennant along with the supporting cast of the national team is the last thing that the despondent Young Lions need at the moment.

The Stags are still unbeaten after four games in the league this season and the signs are that, that run will not be threatened in this encounter.

Things can only go one way in this match and if anything, GYL need a superhuman effort to salvage even a draw.

Team News

Plenty of players from both sides were involved in at least two matches during the international break, so expect fatigue to rear its ugly head here. Tampines form the core of the national squad while the Garena Young Lions had plenty of their players in Iran as part of the National under-21 squad.

Tampines form

  • Brunei DPMM 1-2 Tampines Rovers (S.League)
  • Tampines Rovers 1 – 1 Ceres (AFC Cup)
  • Selangor 0 – 1 Tampines Rovers (AFC Cup)
  • Home United 1 – 1 Tampines Rovers (S.League)
  • Tampines Rovers 4 – 1 Hougang United (S.League)

Tampines Rovers’ Afiq Yunos, Fazrul Nawaz, Yasir Hanapi, Shakir Hamzah, Christopher Van Huizen and Hafiz Abu Sujad were all involved in the national team’s matches against Myanmar and Afghanistan but they are expected to feature prominently in the Stags ‘line-up on the night.

One man who will be fresh is goalkeeper Izwan Mahbud, who did not take to the field for both games.

The Young Lions are likely to be without defender Taufiq Muqminin through injury but will be boosted by the return of forward Khairul Amri who has resumed full training.

Key Battle: Ammirul Emraan vs Billy Mehmet

This battle alone epitomises the maginitude of the Young Lions’ task – a 20-year-old midfielder playing at the heart of defence entrusted with the responsibility of keeping a 31-year old English-born journeyman who has scored goals aplenty in Scotland and Malaysia quiet.

Try as he might this season, Ammirul has not quite been able to excel in his new position. It is telling that the Young Lions have already conceded 16 goals this season.

It can often be a fair battle between youthful exuberance and experience but not when power comes into the equation.

Mehmet, as he has already shown, is full of power and Ammirul, just like his teammates, is in for a long 90 minutes if the forward is named in Tampines’ starting XI.

Photo: Weixiang Lim/FourFourTwo

The Coaches

Patrick Hesse’s tenure as the Young Lions’ coach has gotten off to a dismal start in the five matches that he has been in charge of so far.

His persistence urging his side to build play from the back in what are precise attempts to start their attacks with short passes have backfired spectacularly, especially in the hammering from Home United.

Past Five meetings

  • Young Lions 1-3 Tampines (S.League, Sept '15)
  • Young Lions  1-0 Tampines (S.League, Sept '15)
  • Young Lions 0-1 Tampines (S.League, Mar '15)
  • Young Lions 1-2 Tampines (S.League, May '14)
  • Young Lions 2-3 Tampines (S.League, Mar '14)

The Stags’s V. Sundramoorthy is an astute tactician who must have already picked up on their opponents’ weakness and will be drilling his side to be clinical and take advantage of whatever slips that the Young Lions are guilty of committing.

With the Singapore post vacant, the Dazzler will be aware every Tampines match is an opportunity for himself to showcase his credentials as the Lions’ next boss of choice.

Facts and Figures

Mehmet currently leads the S.League assists table with four assists to his name.

In 37 matches played between both sides, Tampines have scored 80 goals while letting in just 40.

FourFourTwo prediction

Young Lions 0 Tampines Rovers 4. It is going to be a very long and arduous 90 minutes for the Young Lions here, and the most they may be able to set out to do is try to keep the score line respectable.

Photos: S.League