Raab: Time for Tampines to show we can beat Albirex
Tampines want to inflict psychological blow on White Swans in first game of triple-header
|TAMPINES ROVERS||ALBIREX NIIGATA|
Tampines Rovers' intriguing triple-header with league leaders Albirex Niigata starts tonight, in the first leg of their RHB Singapore Cup quarter-final clash at Our Tampines Hub.
After this game, the Stags will travel to Jurong East Stadium for the return leg on Sunday, before facing the same opponents again in a Great Eastern-Hyundai S.League match the following Saturday.
With Tampines and Albirex both also challenging for the league title, the stakes are certainly high in tonight's encounter.
Said Tampines stalwart Mustafic Fahrudin: "If we get good results in these games, I believe we will go on to push Albirex in the league."
The Japanese side currently lead the nine-team league standings, on 40 points, nine ahead of second-placed Tampines. But Albirex have played two games more.
Ironically, Tampines' dismal campaign in The New Paper League Cup in July may end up aiding them in their push for glory.
BID FOR SILVERWARE
The five-time S.League champions lost all three group games as they scored two goals and conceded 12, but Mustafic believes that tourney could provide the platform for them to launch their bid for silverware at the business end of the season.
Said the Singapore international: "The League Cup was a completely different game, but that was important for us because the coach decided to give the national players a break.
"I think it was the right decision. We are rested and fresher now - we're clearly ready to go. We showed that in that win against DPMM."
"Now we have three games in 10 days - in the league and the Singapore Cup - and I think the rest that we had will start to show in these games."
After Tampines' senior players returned to the fold, the Stags beat Bruneian outfit DPMM 2-0, in their first game at Our Tampines Hub.
A victory over Albirex in the Singapore Cup could give the Stags a massive psychological boost in the league, but Tampines coach Juergen Raab does not want his charges to think about anything other than the quarter-final game.
"I want to separate the league and this cup competition to get the team to focus on only these two games, and not think about chasing Albirex in the league," said the German.
"The aim for any team in a cup competition is to win it. And to win it, we have to get to the next round - and that must be the focus."
Raab already has a plan in place to stifle the free-flowing Japanese, who beat Geylang International 5-0 in their last league fixture.
He said: "We don't want to let them dominate the game and do what they want on the pitch.
"Against this team we must concentrate for 90 minutes because they can capitalise on any mistakes that we make.
"We must be strong in the battle and be fit to last the entire 90 minutes, but most importantly, we must be patient."
Tampines lost 2-1 and 4-1 to Albirex in the league in their two clashes this year.
Raab's battle cry ahead of the triple-header was a simple one.
He said: "It is time that we show we can beat this team."