Tampines eye winning start at new home
Tampines want to reward fans with a win over DPMM at new home Our Tampines Hub
|TAMPINES ROVERS||BRUNEI DPMM|
The last time Tampines Rovers played in Tampines, Mustafic Fahrudin scored twice in a 5-0 win over Balestier Khalsa in Nov 2011.
Six years on, he is set to skipper the team as they make their return to a spanking new 5,000-capacity Our Tampines Hub, on the site of the former Tampines Stadium.
Tonight, the Stags host Brunei DPMM in their first Great Eastern-Hyundai S.League game back in the east, having spent the past six seasons playing their "home" matches at the Clementi Stadium and the Jurong West Stadium.
Admission to tonight's match is complimentary for Singaporeans and permanent residents.
Fahrudin is looking forward to seeing some familiar faces in the stands.
"We used to have the best support in the league when we played here," reminisced the 36-year-old.
"There used to be a loyal group of about 30 or 40 supporters sitting on the opposite side (to the grandstand) and they were always really loud, making opponents really feel like they're at an away game.
"Now we have this beautiful stadium, no running track with the fans closer to the pitch, I hope they will return and show us the same support as they did in the past.
To commemorate Tampines Rovers' return to their homeground, free tickets for tonight's game will be available for Singaporeans and permanent residents at the Public Service Centre at Our Tampines Hub from 5.30pm. Tickets to be given out on first-come, first-served basis.
"Tomorrow night, I will look up to the stands and try to recognise some faces from the past.
"We really had some wonderful years here with the fans."
Fahrudin is one of several current Stags who donned the Tampines jersey at the former Tampines Stadium.
Others include Ismadi Mukhtar, Jufri Taha, Imran Sahib, Jamil Ali and national stars Khairul Amri and Shahdan Sulaiman.
Shahdan has played for Tampines almost his entire career, since making his S.League debut as an 18-year-old in 2006.
"On the way here, everything was familiar to me," said the playmaker.
"But, once I was actually inside the stadium and walking out onto the pitch for the first time, it felt totally different.
"I started my career here, so this place means a lot to me.
"Even though Tampines had a team with a lot of internationals and ex-internationals back then, I was given a chance by boss (then-chairman Teo Hock Seng). Thanks to him, I have a football career."
Like Fahrudin, Shahdan also wants to mark the Stags' homecoming with three points against DPMM.
"Now we are back where we belong, I hope we can pick up where we left off and make our home ground a fortress again," said the 29-year-old.
Tampines coach Juergen Raab is also hoping for a win to maintain their good S.League form.
The Stags were unbeaten in four games in the S.League before The New Paper League Cup earlier this month, and a win tonight will see them leapfrog Home United into second on the table, just three points behind leaders Albirex Niigata.
Said the German: "To me, the home ground must be a fortress, because this is where you pick up most of your points.
"I hope we can start tomorrow, and deliver a good match to all our fans who turn up, and pick up the three points."
Minister for the Environment and Water Resources Masagos Zulkifli, who is also an MP for Tampines GRC, will be among the VIPs tonight.
- Balestier Khalsa v Hougang United (7.30pm, Toa Payoh Stadium)