Tampines Rovers reach TNP League Cup semis
Tampines show off their strength in depth after an eighth successive win
WARRIORS FC 0
TAMPINES ROVERS 3
(Billy Mehmet 45, Fabian Kwok 55, Ariyan Malik 62)
They may be missing seven national players, but don't write off Tampines Rovers, not even if they rest star player Jermaine Pennant and defensive stalwart Mustafic Fahrudin and field five Prime League players in a match.
With their barnstorming performances in The New Paper League Cup, Tampines are quickly dispelling the notion that they are over-reliant on their big-name players.
After beating Hougang United 6-4 last week, the Stags romped to a 3-0 victory over Warriors FC at the Jalan Besar Stadium last night to seal their place in the semi-finals.
Brunei DPMM FC joined them in the final four after beating Hougang United 2-0 in the other Group A game.
Boosted by an eighth successive win since he took over the reins from V Sundramoorthy, Tampines coach Akbar Nawas said: "We are definitely going to have a go (at the final).
"Our Prime League players stepped up and, with the help of the senior players, they were more than good enough.
"The backroom staff and I believe in who we have which, in turn, makes the players believe in themselves.
"The encouraging performances of the younger ones is a good sign for Singapore football because there will be more players to pick from in the future."
YOUNG GUNS IMPRESS
While striker Billy Mehmet was the all-action hero with his physical prowess, link-up play and opening goal which squirmed beneath Basil Chan just before half-time, his younger teammates were not overawed as they tasted rare first-team action.
Gautham Selvamani, whose close ball control was a delight to watch, was a livewire on the wings with his willingness to take on defenders.
The 20-year-old played a nice one-two with Ismadi Mukhtar, who pulled the ball back for Fabian Kwok to make it 2-0 10 minutes after the break
Fellow flanker Ariyan Malik, 19, overcame initial jitters to finish off the scoring for the S.League title contenders after Jordan Webb unselfishly teed him up following Mehmet's lovely through-ball.
Midfielder Aide Syazwandi, 19, nearly made it four but was denied in a one-on-one with Chan, while 17-year-old forward Saifullah Akbar and 20-year-old Faridzuan Fuad also did not look out of place.
While Tampines continue to challenge on four fronts - they are currently second in the S.League, in the quarter-finals of the AFC Cup and in the last four of the RHB Singapore Cup and The New Paper League Cup - Warriors coach Razif Onn is left picking up the pieces after seeing his team eliminated from all major competitions even before July is over.
"I was talking about my backline, but it seems like we have to remedy the team from top to bottom," he said.
"We conceded four in the second half against DPMM last week and now three against Tampines, something is wrong with the team... And if we can't score, then it becomes disastrous."
- TNP MAN OF THE MATCH:
Billy Mehmet (Tampines Rovers)
- WARRIORS FC: Basil Chan, Ismail Yunos, Hafiz Osman, Kento Fukuda, Shaiful Esah, Andy Ahmad, Syaqir Sulaiman, Nikola Rak (Poh Yi Feng 86), Fazli Jaffar (Ridhuan Muhd 70), Hafiz Rahim, Marijan Suto (Hafsyar Farkhan 78)
- TAMPINES ROVERS: Joey Sim, Ismadi Mukhtar, Jufri Taha, Noh Rahman, Irwan Shah, Gautham Selvamani (Aide Syazwandi 80), Fabian Kwok, Jordan Webb, Ariyan Malik (Faridzuan Fuad 78), Saifullah Akbar (Nawari Ahmad 90), Billy Mehmet
OTHER GROUP A RESULT:
Hougang 0 Brunei DPMM 2
Taiwan's Truth in ABL
Taiwan's Kaohsiung Truth are the first team outside South-east Asia to join the Asean Basketball League (ABL), it was announced last night.
Founded in 2009, the ABL has only featured Asean teams until yesterday's announcement.
ABL chief operations officer Jericho Ilagan said: "We welcome the Kaohsiung Truth to the ABL family with open arms.
"Adding a team from outside of the South-east Asia region is a step towards the right direction to further strengthen the sport of basketball."
Truth already have Americans James Tyler and Chris Oliver, as well as Taiwanese Carlos Andrade, Wesley Hsu and Sabatino Chen on their roster, and are looking to strengthen their side ahead of the new season.
- LIM SAY HENG