Tampines Rovers vs Young Lions: Will Young Lions be brought back down to earth?
Stern test for Hesse’s young charges
Tampines Rovers form
- Tampines 4-3 Brunei DPMM (S.League)
- Mohun Bagan 1-2 Tampines (AFC Cup)
- Warriors 0-0 Tampines (S.League)
- Tampines 1-2 Home United (S.League)
- Tampines 1-0 Selangor FA (AFC Cup)
Young Lions Form
- Young Lions 2-2 Home United (S.League)
- Ceres 3-1 Young Lions (Singapore Cup)
- Hougang United 1-1 Young Lions (S.League)
- Young Lions 3-1 Warriors (S.League)
- Geylang International 3-1 Young Lions (S.League)
But the return of Khairul Amri coincided with a 3-1 win over Warriors FC, and the Young Lions have embarked on a three-game unbeaten run in the league since.
In their last game, the Young Lions even put Home United to the sword and could feel wistful that they had not walked away with three points, as the game ended in a 2-2 draw.
Things do not get any easier for the Young Lions though, as they now travel to Jurong West Stadium to face Tampines Rovers.
The Stags barely earned three points against Brunei DPMM, as they relinquished the lead three times before a late goal by Jermaine Pennant settled matters.
The title challengers are behind Albirex Niigata (S) by seven points and they cannot afford to lose further ground, so you can be sure the Stags will be desperate to claim victory.
If the Young Lions were to claim a credible result against the Stags, it would send a message out to the rest of the league that they are not the whipping boys everyone perceived them to be.
Young Lions captain Firdaus Kasman will miss out after earning his fourth yellow card of the competition.
Veteran striker Amri may also miss out on a starting spot, especially since the Stags played just three days ago. With the Singapore forward recently returning from injury, it may be too high a risk to start him.
On Tampines front, the Stags too played a game just three days ago and new coach Akbar Nawas should be rotating his squad to keep legs fresh.
Key Battle: Benjamin Bertrand vs Billy Mehmet
It’s anyone guess who will start in goal for the Young Lions given how they have rotated the starting goalkeepers in recent games, but our guess is Bertrand will be tasked to keep a clean sheet.
The goalkeeper will have his work cut out for him, as he will be facing one of the most lethal strike force in the league.
Mehmet scored in his last game for Tampines and it should have boosted his confidence considerably.
With Jordan Webb, Jermaine Pennant and Fazrul Nawaz as his supports in attack, Mehmet should have a decent supply of opportunities to capitalise upon.
Akbar shared that his philosophy was to go out and attack, and so it proved against DPMM.
His gung-ho approach may have resulted in four goals being scored, but the Stags also conceded three goals at the same time and that is not a good thing for a side hoping to clinch the title.
On the other hand, Young Lions coach Patrick Hesse has instructed his side to go for the kill, no matter who they play. Even against the red-hot Home, the Young Lions poured forward whenever possible and refused to play a defensive game.
This could mean fans are in for a goal fest at Jurong West Stadium.
Past Five Meetings
- Young Lions 1-2 Tampines (S.League, Apr ’16)
- Young Lions 1-3 Tampines (S.League, Sep ’15)
- Tampines 0-1 Young Lions (S.League, Sep ‘15)
- Tampines 1-0 Young Lions (S.League, Sep ‘15)
- Young Lions 1-2 Tampines (S.League, May ’14)
Facts and Figures
- Tampines have only lost eight times in 38 meetings with Young Lions
- The Young Lions have not kept a clean sheet in 14 games
- The Stags have the joint-most scorers (10) in the league this season
- The Young Lions have not scored from a set piece this season.
Without Firdaus Kasman, the Young Lions midfield could be overrun and allow Tampines to pour forward at will. Tampines 3 Young Lions 1.
Photos: Weixiang Lim / FFT