Tampines' AFC Cup drive gets lukewarm response

At least 5,000 tickets have been taken up for Tampines Rovers' Asian Football Confederation (AFC) Cup clash against Selangor on Tuesday - the first time an S-League club will play at the new National Stadium.

However, opinion is split among local football fans on whether to heed Stags chairman Krishna Ramachandra's bugle call to support Tampines at Kallang.

Tampines will charter two buses for fans for a two-way trip between Tampines West Community Club and the Sports Hub. The club, which has 120 fan-club members, will also hold a booth for membership sign-ups on match day.

Said its fan club chairman Richard Chung: "We hope to create a great atmosphere and do our best to spur the team on. The game's very significant and a big draw for our fans.

"Tampines are going in the right direction and it is very positive for the fans. It helps in pushing Singapore football forward.

5,000

Tickets being taken up for the Tampines Rovers versus Selangor AFC Cup match at the National Stadium.

"Of course, it'll be greatly appreciated if fans from other clubs head down as well. We all just want to enjoy the occasion as we try to bring people together."

But rival S-League fans are adamant they are not switching allegiances to help fill up the 55,000- seater National Stadium.

Hougang United fan Lance Lai, 44, insisted: "I won't come down to support another club.

"You don't see a Manchester United fan going to a Liverpool game, right? It's the same principle here."

Warriors FC defender Ismail Yunos shared similar views in a Facebook post, saying: "So if Man Utd playing in the Champions League, (is it) compulsory for all other Premier League teams to come watch them play just because they are Man United?

"How about the other teams playing in the Champions League then?"

With a game left in the four-team group, Tampines are third in Group E with seven points while Selangor are second (eight points). Filipino side Ceres La Salle are top with nine points.

The equation facing the Stags is simple: Beat Selangor to finish in the top two to progress to round of 16. Anything less means elimination.

The Football Association of Singapore said yesterday that 5,000 tickets have been taken up for the match, with 250 travelling Selangor fans expected to arrive on Tuesday.

When it was announced last month that the Stags will host the Red Giants for the AFC Cup fixture at Kallang, Tampines chairmain Ramachandra said: "I want this match to be labelled and promoted as Singapore v Selangor.

"It's about national pride, given that Tampines has a good proportion of the national squad players."

But S-League fan Kevin Sia, who is a neutral, does not see how Tampines represent the Republic.

The 35-year-old said: "Tampines might have most of the national players but they're still not the national team.

"Also, every time a Singapore side play against Selangor or Pahang or whoever, it's always called Singapore against them. It's a bit stale now."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on May 08, 2016, with the headline 'Tampines' AFC Cup drive gets lukewarm response'. Print Edition | Subscribe