Hougang United to face Tampines Rovers in AIA Community Shield
Saturday's AIA Community Shield, the local season's curtain-raiser, will go ahead despite the withdrawal of Singapore Premier League (SPL) champions Brunei DPMM.
The Bruneian side had pulled out of the 6pm match at the Jalan Besar Stadium due to precautionary travel restrictions in the light of the Covid-19 situation.
The Football Association of Singapore (FAS) announced yesterday that Hougang United, who finished third in last year's SPL, will take DPMM's place and face Singapore Cup winners Tampines Rovers.
Both Hougang and Tampines have already kicked off their season, registering wins in their opening AFC Cup games.
Hougang defeated Lao Toyota 3-1 in their Group F encounter last Tuesday, while Tampines beat PSM Makassar 2-1 in a Group H tie a day later.
Cheetahs coach Clement Teo is aware of the threat the Stags could pose, having watched them in action.
"Tampines are a very experienced side with talented individuals who can change games," said the 53-year-old. "Having watched their AFC Cup match, I believe they are one of the favourites for the league."
When asked for his thoughts on DPMM's withdrawal, Teo declined comment.
Stags coach Gavin Lee remains unperturbed by the late changes and said his charges will be well-prepared to play against Hougang.
"We are just focused on the preparations for Hougang now and will make sure that we are all ready to play against Hougang, who are a strong side," the 29-year-old said.
"We've watched Hougang a few times. They have recruited well and are a stronger side compared to last year.
"There are changes to their play as well, so we have to prepare for that accordingly."
DPMM were unavailable for comments at press time, but coach Adrian Pennock told BruSports News that "the health and safety of everybody is more important".
Their season opener against Lion City Sailors on Feb 29 could be postponed as well.
Fans can purchase tickets for the Community Shield at www.fas.org.sg/tickets/ from today or at the match venue from 3pm on Saturday.
Temperature checks will be conducted before entry to the stadium. - NARENDAREN KARNAGERAN