Sundram: Pennant was kept in cotton wool for Selangor

Jermaine Pennant will be Tampines Rovers' AFC Cup ace it seems, after his coach said one of his key weapons didn't start the club's last two games to ensure his fitness for Tuesday's Selangor showdown...

Tampines Rovers head coach V. Sundramoorthy has revealed that former Liverpool winger Jermaine Pennant did not start the last two games in order to stay fresh for the AFC Cup tie with Selangor.

It is do-or-die for Tampines on Tuesday evening, as they play their final AFC Cup Group E game against the Red Giants.

Nothing but a win will suffice for the Stags to progress to the last 16, who are on seven points and in third place, one and two points behind Selangor and Ceres La Salle respectively.

With this in mind, Sundram revealed that he had plans in place for weeks to help protect his marquee signing.

We have a couple of national players and they are used to the pitch there

- Sundram

Pennant only came off the bench in Tampines' last two league games, a 4-2 victory over Warriors FC and 1-1 draw with Hougang United.

"We kept him on the bench because we needed him for this game," Sundram said at Monday's pre-match press conference.

"This is the biggest game of the season so far and I had to sacrifice him for the last two S.League games."

However, Sundram believes Tampines cannot to afford to solely pin their hopes on Pennant for the match, which will be held at Singapore's National Stadium.

"Jordan Webb is doubtful for the game and will need a late fitness test, but looking at my team, we have a couple of national players and they are used to the pitch there," he added.

"We need to stay focused too, that's our main problem, especially in the defensive areas.

"We have been giving away penalties as the focus wasn't there and they need to keep focus for the 90 minutes and in injury time and make sure we can come away with something."

Photo: Weixiang Lim / FourFourTwo