Match Of The Week

Football: Out of title hunt, but Tampines Rovers still have everything to play for

Tampines Rovers skipper Shahdan Sulaiman is hoping to spoil Brunei DPMM's championship party when they meet in Bandar Seri Begawan tonight. The Stags are bidding to win their last three matches to pip Hougang to second place in the Singapore Premier
Tampines Rovers skipper Shahdan Sulaiman is hoping to spoil Brunei DPMM's championship party when they meet in Bandar Seri Begawan tonight. The Stags are bidding to win their last three matches to pip Hougang to second place in the Singapore Premier League. ST PHOTO: KHALID BABA

SINGAPORE PREMIER LEAGUE

Brunei DPMM v Tampines Rovers

(Bandar Seri Begawan, 8.15pm)

Tampines Rovers' challenge for the Singapore Premier League (SPL) title may have ended with three games to go, but they have no time to feel sorry for themselves.

The Stags play newly-crowned champions Brunei DPMM tonight in Bandar Seri Begawan knowing they will need to win their remaining fixtures to finish second and qualify for the Asian Football Confederation Champions League play-offs.

They are currently third with 37 points from 21 games, behind Hougang United, who are six points ahead having played two games more.

However, Tampines have a superior goal difference of +21, compared to Hougang's +14, which will come in handy should both teams finish level on points.

Stags skipper Shahdan Sulaiman told The Straits Times: "We hope to spoil their (DPMM's) party and strengthen our own position, but I don't think it will be easy.

  • OTHER FIXTURES

  • TODAY

    Albirex v Balestier Khalsa

    (Jurong East, 7.45pm)

    Geylang v Warriors

    (Our Tampines Hub, 7.45pm)

    Home v Young Lions

    (Bishan, 7.45pm)

  • SATURDAY

    Home v Geylang

    (Bishan, 5.30pm)

  • SUNDAY

    Warriors v Tampines

    (Jurong East, 5.30pm)

"We cannot get ahead of ourselves and think about games against Warriors and Young Lions.

"We need to get the job done against DPMM first. With Hougang left with just one game, we cannot afford to drop points."

DPMM have been ruthless and efficient in their hunt for the league title, beating rivals Balestier Khalsa 4-1, Albirex Niigata 2-0 and Warriors 3-0 in their last three games.

In contrast, Tampines lost 2-1 to Geylang through a last-minute goal, beat Albirex 2-0 and were held 3-3 by Balestier on Saturday.

While Tampines were unable to clinch a sixth title, Shahdan was consoled by the emergence and improvement of the younger players.

Amirul Adli, 23, was called up to the Lions while 18-year-olds Akmal Azman and Hamizam Hisham, and Shah Shahiran and Joel Chew, both 19, made a good impression when selected by coach Gavin Lee.

The 31-year-old Shahdan added: "More than half of our team are made up of younger players and they have contributed. We want to end our league campaign strong and go into the Singapore Cup with positive momentum."

DPMM will have a strong say in the race for second place as they face Hougang in their last SPL game on Sept 29.

But DPMM FC coach Adrian Pennock insisted his side will not be taking things easy despite already amassing an insurmountable 47 points from 22 games.

He said: "What worked for us this season are our good work ethic, organisation and good players who also want to learn and listen.

"We have great togetherness and team spirit in everyone connected to DPMM.

"Our approach will always be the same and that's doing our best in all the games. We will be professional."

David Lee

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 18, 2019, with the headline 'Out of title hunt, Stags still battle on'. Print Edition | Subscribe