Keep up with Tampines’ model or get left behind

It may seem unfair that Tampines have gathered many of the nation’s best talents and yet still have the resources to attract more, but that’s the way it should be, Aleksandar Duric believes. 

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I don’t see it. I just don’t.

I might be wrong, but I just don’t see how Tampines Rovers will fail in their bid to win the S.League this year.

To win a championship, you need more than just Jermaine Pennant and luck – you need depth as well, a department in which Tampines is well stocked.

Take a look at their most recent game. After playing Home United just four days prior, Tampines had to travel to Selayang Stadium, Malaysia, to face Selangor.

The Malaysian team are no pushovers they won the Malaysia Cup last year and were sitting atop the Malaysia Super League table.

Yet the Stags could afford to rest the likes of Pennant and Billy Mehmet and still walk away with a 1-0 victory, thanks to Fazrul Nawaz – who did not play against Home!

Fazrul Nawaz started against Selangor to score the winning goal. Photo:

I don’t disagree that the local clubs are very competitive this year; they are.

Geylang International and Albirex Niigata (S) are looking hard to beat, while Balestier Khalsa have once again shown the world why they should not be underestimated after they shocked Hong Kong’s ‘Barca’ Kitchee SC 1-0 on the same night the Stags beat the Red Giants.

Home have not realised their maximum potential, but once they do they will be a force to reckoned with, and the same goes for Brunei DPMM.

But I can confidently say this – the luxury of being able to rest several key players is something only Tampines can indulge in at the moment. And it will be central to their hopes of winning the title.

Unfair? Yes, you can say it is really unfair. But this is how football operates around the world.

In any given league, there will always be a few teams which are a class above the rest because they have signed the best players available from their local rivals and abroad.

Barcelona, Real Madrid, PSG, Chelsea, Manchester City, Bayern Munich – the list goes on and on.

They all do it, in order to be the best. This is a common occurrence we should not be making a big fuss about. If wanting to win is wrong, then we might be in the wrong sport or field altogether.

But instead of being envious of Tampines’ riches, depth and what-have-you, here’s an opportunity to learn.

What can we do to help our club grow in the same way? How can we convince John Arne Riise to say yes to us instead of Tampines? Is there a way we can do something better than Tampines to help us become successful?

Home, for example, believe that if they are unable to compete financially with Tampines, then they will look to youth development programmes to ensure they have a strong crop of players coming through. Already, we have seen the likes of Shahrin Saberin making the step up and if more follow suit, Home will surely have a strong base of players for years to come.

I, for sure, would like to see more balance in the S.League, but not at the expense of weakening our top clubs.

When clubs eventually do catch up with the Stags, we might possibly once again be looking at the good old days when the likes of SAFFC were making waves on the highest platform we have in this part of the world, the Asian Champions League.