Preview: Tampines Rovers vs Selangor FA

Tampines Rovers host Selangor FA on Tuesday in Group E of the AFC Cup in a fixture that will determine who progresses to the knockout stages of the competition.

Prior to the final round of matches commencing, Group E has Ceres La Salle FC at the summit with nine points and assured of entry into the knockout stages.

Selangor are in second with eight points, while Tampines are third with seven points and Lt. Sheikh Jamal Dhanmondi Club Ltd are already out of the reckoning with only five points.

A win for either Tampines or Selangor will guarantee at least second spot in the group. However, a draw is enough for Selangor to go through, but not for Tampines, and this scenario is sure to make for some interesting tactics.

In the previous meeting between the two sides back in March, it was Tampines who recorded a hard-fought 1-0 victory.

Both sides have been impressive in their respective domesetic competitions of late and so will both enter this fixture full of confidence.

Despite being involved in a frustrating 1-1 draw on Thursday against Hougang in the S.League, Tampines have been in fine form of late winning three of their previous four games prior to last week’s draw. They currently occupy second on the table, five points off the pace of leaders Albirex Niigata, but with a game in hand.

Tampines manager V. Sundramoorthy acknowledged that his side’s domestic form meant that his players were in a good space and that he was confident that they would be able to deliver a performance worthy of the occasion.

“(Our fate) is in our hands, that’s the most important thing. We decide our destiny,” Sundramoorthy said.

“The boys are ready to go, in training all the players are very motivated. Tomorrow we can (expect to) see them putting on a good show.

“If (the team) turns up, are willing to run and fight for everything, we can get the (win).”

Tampines have a number of national players in their squad, but they will surely be looking to former Liverpool and Arsenal man Jermaine Pennant to be their catalyst after recovering from a hamstring injury.

Should Tampines qualify, it would be the first time in three years that a Singaporean club has made it to the AFC Cup knockout stages.

Selangor lie third in Malaysia’s Super League having accumulated a decent haul of eight points in their last five games. Their most recent league encounter was a 2-1 win over T-Team that will have given them great momentum heading into this pivotal match.

Despite needing just a point to qualify, Selangor coach Zainal Abidin Hassan has said his team won’t play defensively and insists that if each player does what is expected of them then they will be on the right side of the result.

“We’re not going to park the bus, we’re just going to play our normal game,” he said.

“There will be specific instructions given to each player and I hope they live up to the occasion because it’s a big game.

“At Selangor, the expectations are always high. The fans expect us to be always at the top, so we take that as a challenge.

“It’s our job to keep trying to do better and produce good football, as well as win some trophies.”

Hassan will hope that Mauro Olivi can continue his goal-scoring run on the continent and add to his tally of three goals in this year’s edition of the competition.

Malaysia Super League champions Johor Darul Ta’zim sprang a surprise last year by going all the way to lift the trophy, and Selangor will be out to do the same this year.

The game will be held at the 55 000-seater National Stadium in Singapore and will kick-off at 19:00 (HKT).