Football: Stags to face Bengaluru in AFC Cup

 Tampines Rovers player Mustafic Fahrudin at a training session on April 15.
Tampines Rovers player Mustafic Fahrudin at a training session on April 15. ST PHOTO: ONG WEE JIN

In the 13 seasons Fahrudin Mustafic has played for Tampines Rovers since 2002, he has never gone past the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) Cup quarter-finals.

Now, the 35-year-old player-assistant coach is eager to play his biggest club game of his career.

Standing in Tampines' way to a place in the last four are Indian outfit Bengaluru FC. The draw was made at AFC's headquarters in Kuala Lumpur yesterday afternoon.

The two clubs will meet in the two-legged quarter-final with Tampines travelling to India for the first leg on Sep 14 before hosting the return fixture on Sep 21.

Fahrudin said: "I've been in Tampines for 13 years but never been to the semi-finals. Most of us like the big games and the big stage."

Afiq Yunos, 25, who scored the winner in their round-of-16 2-1 win over Mohun Bagan on May 25, added that familiarity with Indian teams could be an advantage.

The defender said: "We know what to expect and how they play - fast and aggressive."

He also hopes for a return to the National Stadium, where Tampines were the first S-League team to play at the new 55,000-seater ground when they beat Selangor 1-0 in their final group match on May 10.

He said: "Personally, playing at the National Stadium boosts my confidence."

Tampines chairman Krishna Ramachandra said the decision should be made by the Football Association of Singapore (FAS).

He said: "It's not my call, we leave it up to (the FAS) to decide. For now, I won't be pressing anyone for it. The initiative has to come from the rest of the establishment."

Krishna also revealed the club have found a new sponsor, which he declined to name, to soothe the cashflow problems the club had started facing two months ago.

Alvin Chia

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 10, 2016, with the headline 'Stags face Bengaluru in AFC Cup'. Print Edition | Subscribe