Tampines Rovers 3 Sengkang Punggol 0
On a night when Singaporeans choose to catch up with their sleep following Spain’s semi-final victory over Germany the previous night, around 1,200 fans showed up at the Tampines Stadium, hoping to see an entertaining game. Both sides, especially Tampines, did not disappoint!
Sengkang, led by former international skipper and Singapore legend, Aide Iskandar, surprisingly managed to contain and had a few chances, scaring the ever vocal stags supporters. Alas, the gulf in class between both teams finally became apparent as Tampines began getting into their rhythm.
After a poor 0-0 draw in the eastern derby on Sunday, Qiu Li was determined to lead the way as he got on the scoresheet a minute before the interval. But it was Nakamura’s sensational strike that pleased the crowd 12 minutes earlier. The goal was almost a carbon copy of the strike against Albirex Niigata on the same ground weeks ago and the Tampines Rovers’ faithful was delighted to see him score again.
Amidst all the goals, ( Amri added one late in the second half), it was the performance of two players that caught the attention of many. Firstly, Sengkang’s hardworking midfielder, Sobrie Mazlan as well as Aliff Shafaein who skippered the side in the absence of the evergreen Zulkarnaen Zainal.
Both players looked lively and linked up play for their respective sides. They received praises and applause from the crowd who clearly appreciated the good effort of both players.
As it is, Tampines are still hot on the heels of Etoile Fc, which surprisingly lost to Albirex Niigata. For those who thought that the league would be Etoile’s for the taking, think again. This IS THE S-LEAGUE! One of the top 10 leagues in Asia and hence, you have to always keep an eye on it!
Singapore player to watch: Aliff Shafaein
Standing at just 1.60m tall, many will never consider Aliff to be a key player. Tell that to a Tampines Rovers’ fan and you are likely to be hit by a tight slap!
Do not be fooled by the “little master’s” frame as he is indeed the key player in the Tampines Rovers side, filled with Singapore internationals. His clever play and chemistry with Duric and Qiu Li were evident on Thursday night and they are undoubtedly one of the reasons why Vorawan’s side are still in the running for the S-league crown. Lets just hope that this skillful and unsung hero keeps up his form. A place in the Singapore first XI may seem a bridge too far but having him on Raddy’s bench certainly will not hurt the team!