Protectors And Stags Battle For Supremacy
Home United vs Tampines Rovers
(23 October, Monday, 7.30pm, Bishan Stadium)
Written by: Phoon Jia Hui
Tampines Rovers and Home United will be looking to keep their slim Great Eastern-Hyundai title hopes alive when they do battle at Bishan Stadium on Monday night.
As things stand, Tampines are in second spot as they trail leaders Albirex Niigata (S) by nine points with a game in hand. Home on the other hand, have played two games fewer than Albirex and are also ten points behind the White Swans.
Hence, nothing less than a victory will do for both sides as they attempt to keep themselves within touching distance of Albirex.
That is a fact not lost on Tampines midfielder Shahdan Sulaiman who admits home advantage could give the Protectors the edge.
“Of course, they (Home) will be the slight favourites as the hosts but we will go into this like any other match which is to win,” said Shahdan.
“Also, it is important to get the three points here because both teams are fighting to improve on our standings and the two matches against Home may well decide where we finish at the end of the season.”
While they remain mathematically in the running for the title, Shahdan feels consolidating second spot would be a ‘realistic target’ for the Stags.
“Winning the title is going to be difficult as we have to hope for other results to go our way,” the Singapore international noted. “We should not worry too much about the title and take it one game at a time. By doing that, we won’t be putting ourselves under unnecessary pressure.
“I am only concerned about what we can control which is the second spot and we will give our best to achieve that.”
With their last defeat coming in a 4-0 reverse to Albirex in August, Shahdan believes the team is peaking at the right time but has warned against complacency.
“We may be on a good run but anything can happen in football,” he said.
“Against a quality side like Home United, form counts for nothing as the winner will be which team that turns up on that day.”
Jurgen Raab’s side will however be without full-back Ismadi Mukhtar who serves the first of his two-match suspension, but Shahdan is confident they can cope in his absence.
“We are not going to change the way we play,” he shared. “We will definitely miss Ismadi’s experience but we have capable replacements (like Shannon Stephen and Jufri Taha) who can do a good job when called upon.”
Home meanwhile, come into this on the back of a 2-0 win over Balestier Khalsa courtesy of a quickfir brace from Stipe Plazibat three days ago.
They managed to do it without the services of key players such as Faris Ramli, Irfan Fandi and Juma’at Jantan who were all presumably rested for this tie.
Playing in their own backyard, Aidil Sharin has vowed to go all out in search of the three points.
“It’s our home ground and you don’t see our team sitting back this season,” said the Home head coach.
“Of course it’s not going to be easy, but we want to attack whenever possible and try to get the win.”
A victory here will see the Protectors overtake Tampines in the standings and Aidil is bullish about his team’s chances.
“It’s mathematically still possible for us and we will not give up,” said the former Singapore international who will welcome Izzdin Shafiq back from suspension.
“It will be good if we can beat Tampines, because you can then see us pulling further away because we have a game in hand.
“As long as the competition is still on, we will go all out to get the victory.”
It ended 3-2 when the two sides met earlier this season with first-half strikes from Khairul Amri, Shakir Hamzah and Daniel Bennett rendering Amiruldin Asraf’s brace inconsequential.
Suspension: Ismadi Mukhtar (Tampines Rovers)
Home United - WLLWW
20/10/17 Home United 2-0 Balestier Khalsa
15/10/17 Hougang United 0-2 Home United
30/09/17 Home United 1-2 Albirex Niigata (S) (RHB Singapore Cup)
27/09/17 Albirex Niigata (S) 3-1 Home United (RHB Singapore Cup)
23/09/17 Geylang International 1-3 Home United
Tampines Rovers - WWWDW
15/10/17 Geylang International 2-3 Tampines Rovers
20/09/17 Tampines Rovers 1-1 Warriors FC
17/09/17 Balestier Khalsa 0-1 Tampines Rovers
12/09/17 Garena Young Lions 0-4 Tampines Rovers
09/09/17 Tampines Rovers 5-1 Hougang United
Head to Head (S.League)
12/05/17 Tampines Rovers 3-2 Home United
10/09/16 Home United 1-0 Tampines Rovers
13/05/16 Tampines Rovers 1-2 Home United
03/03/16 Home United 1-1 Tampines Rovers
08/11/15 Home United 2-3 Tampines Rovers