Global FC vs Tampines Rovers: New-look Stags out to shine on continental stage

AFC Champions League Qualifiers | Rizal Memorial Stadium | Tues 24 Jan | 7.30pm   

Billed as

Tampines Rovers’ first and easiest hurdle to AFC Champions League qualification.

The lowdown

Global FC Form

  • Global 0-5 Ceres (UFL)
  • Laos 0-7 Global (UFL)
  • Global 3-0 Stallion (UFL)
  • Global 0-2 Voltes (UFL)
  • Green Archers 1-3 Global (UFL)

Tampines Rovers Form

  • Albirex Niigata (S) 2-0 Tampines (SG Cup Final)
  • Albirex Niigata (S) 1-5 Tampines (S.League)
  • Tampines 2-0 Balestier Khalsa (S.League)
  • Garena Young Lions 1-3 Tampines (S.League)
  • Tampines 0-1 Brunei DPMM (S.League)

Their respective domestic campaigns have yet to begin, but the immediate focus for both sides is the AFC Champions League (ACL) qualifiers as they battle it out in a one-off match to pursue their ambitions of making it into Asia’s most elite competition.

Philippines’ Global FC are here by virtue of winning last season’s United Football League and are seeking to be the first Filipino side to reach the ACL.

Meanwhile Singapore’s Tampines have qualified for this stage despite finishing second in the S.League in 2016, as champions Albirex Niigata (S) – feeder club of J-League side Albirex - are a foreign franchise and thus not allowed to represent the Republic.

The winners of this game will then jet off to Australia to take on A-League side Brisbane Roar on January 31.

Whichever team that prevails will then head to China to face off against Chinese Super League (CSL) outfit Shanghai Greenland Shenhua – who recently signed a certain Carlos Tevez — in a final playoff to determine who makes it into the tournament proper.

Should either team stumble at any of these hurdles, they will automatically drop back into the AFC Cup – Asia’s version of the Europa League.

Global would then be placed in Group F alongside Malaysia’s Johor Darul Ta’zim, Myanmar’s Magwe and either Cambodia’s Boeung Ket Angkor or Laos’ Lao Toyota, while Tampines would be in Group G along with Vietnam’s Ha Noi T&T, Malaysia’s Felda United and Philippines’ Ceres Negro.

Team News

ryutaro_mikomo_-_tampines_rovers_-_terengganu.jpg

Megumi is a new arrival at Tampines. Photo: Terengganu

Global FC have a handy squad to call upon, with key local players such as captain Misagh Bahadoran, Amani Aguinaldo, Dennis Villanueva and Hikaru Minegishi - all of whom represented Philippines in last November’s Suzuki Cup – staying with the club.

In addition, the People’s Club have brought in the experienced Paul Mulders from Ceres, and secured new foreign signings in the form of Brazilian centre-back Rafael Dumas, Australian midfielder Yianni Perkatis and Japanese attacker Shu Sasaki.

Tampines lost their foreign trio of Jermaine Pennant, Billy Mehmet and Jordan Webb, but have since replaced them with Croatian forward Ivan Dzoni, Japanese winger Ryutaro Megumi and South Korean utility man Son Yong Chan – who was previously on the books of Ceres.

Key locals like Hafiz Sujad, Afiq Yunos and Izzdin Shafiq left, but in came three Singapore internationals — Madhu Mohana, Daniel Bennett and Khairul Amri — as well as experienced campaigners like Hafiz Rahim, Fazli Ayob and Jamil Ali.

The Stags are largely fit, except for Shahdan Sulaiman who is out for two weeks and Fazrul Nawaz, who is still recovering from an anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) injury.  

Key Battle: Hikaru Minegishi vs Madhu Mohana  

minigishi_-_philippines_ff.jpg

Minegishi was a thorn in Singapore's defence at the Suzuki Cup. Photo: PFF

When Philippines and Singapore drew 0-0 in last year’s Suzuki Cup opener, it was Minegishi who proved to be the Azkals’ biggest threat with his acceleration and direct play despite just coming on as a half-time sub.

Madhu, along with current Tampines team mate Bennett, did just enough that night at the heart of the Singapore defence to keep the Japanese-born forward at bay and he will need to repeat those heroics in club colours.

The Coaches

Global are currently coached by Toshiaki Imai, a 62-year-old Japanese coach who was previously in charge of the Mongolian and Chinese Taipei national teams.

He is a new arrival at the club, having taken over from Japanese-American Kenichi Yatsuhashi who was previously in charge for just ten days.

Meanwhile Tampines are under the charge of Akbar Nawas, a 41-year-old Singaporean who led the club’s Under-21s to the Prime League title in 2015.

He took over as the club’s head coach last May after V Sundramoorthy left for the Singapore national team job.

Previous Meetings

  • Global 1-2 Tampines (SG Cup QF Leg 2, Jul ’16)
  • Tampines 3-1 Global (SG Cup QF Leg 1, Jun ’16)

Facts and Figures

  • Both sides met in last year’s Singapore Cup quarter-finals, with Tampines prevailing 5-2 over two legs.

  • This is the third time Tampines are participating in the ACL qualifiers. They failed on their first hurdle on two previous occasions, losing 2-1 to Hong Kong’s South China in 2014 and 3-1 to India’s Mohun Bagan in 2016.

  • Bennett, Madhu, Amri, Shakir Hamzah and Yasir Hanapi returns to the venue, where they suffered an early Suzuki Cup exit with the Singapore national team after a disappointing 2-1 loss to Indonesia just two months ago.

FourFourTwo prediction

Global are tough opponents, but Tampines could eke out a win if they get their tactics right. We’re tipping the Stags to nick it 2-1…

Main Photo: Tampines