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White Swans And Stags Battle For Community Shield


Great Eastern Community Shield

Albirex Niigata (S) vs Tampines Rovers

(Sunday, 26 February, 6.00pm, National Stadium)

Written by: Phoon Jia Hui

The 2017 Great Eastern-Hyundai S.League season will kick-off with the Great Eastern Community Shield between Albirex Niigata (S) and Tampines Rovers at the National Stadium, Singapore Sports Hub on Sunday evening.

Albirex made history in 2016 by winning all the trophies that were on offer; the Great Eastern Community Shield, S.League, Singapore Cup and League Cup to complete an unprecedented quadruple.

However, it could prove to be an uphill task if they want to retain all four titles this season as the club have only retained seven players from the previous campaign. The most notable departure is Atsushi Kawata, who scored 20 goals in all competitions last season.

Former coach Naoki Naruo has parted ways with the club and is succeeded by Kazuaki Yoshinaga in the Albirex hot-seat. The same goes for Tampines, as former Garena Young Lions coach Juergen Raab has taken over the reins from Akbar Nawas.

While Tampines have lost the services of attacking trio of Billy Mehmet, Jordan Webb and Jermaine Pennant, the Stags have signed Khairul Amri, Son Yong Chan, former Croatian U17 skipper Ivan Dzoni and Japanese winger Ryutaro Megumi as their replacements.   

Having lost out in the Singapore Cup final to the same opponents last year, Tampines midfielder Shahdan Sulaiman said it has made the team more determined to exact revenge.

“Our objective is to prevent them from winning the Community Shield again. It's hard to say whether we are ready or not, because I think we will only know when the time comes but we are looking forward to meeting Albirex in the Community Shield,” the Singapore international shared.

Tampines are no stranger to playing at the National Stadium, having played there in their AFC Cup group stage match against Selangor FA last year.

It will also be the first time in history that the 55,000-seater venue would host the Community Shield and Shahdan is looking forward to the occasion.

He added: “It's always special to play at the Sports Hub. I would say it's a good feeling and hopefully the crowd will turn up and I'm hoping for a good game.”  

While Raab is keeping his cards close as to how he will approach the match against Albirex, he feels that it is important to have veterans such as Mustafic Fahrudin and Daniel Bennett that can be mentors on the field.

“They are experienced players and important to the team. Bennett is in good condition and Mustafic works very hard in training to maintain his fitness. I am satisfied with them in the team and they can provide leadership on the field,” explained Raab, who acknowledged that he has not seen much of Albirex new players and style of play.

Following Kawata out of the exit door are the likes of Atsushi Shirota, Tatsuro Inui and Kento Fujihara who have moved to Hougang United, Thai Honda FC and Nagaworld FC respectively.

However, Yoshinaga can still call upon the services of evergreen goalkeeper Yosuke Nozawa, newly-appointed captain Shuto Inaba, full-back Naofumi Tanaka and long-serving midfielder Kento Nagasaki. These players are expected to play key roles in helping the new acquisitions to settle into life in the S.League.

Among the new faces at the Jurong East Stadium are Ryuya Motoda from Mito HollyHock, Yuuki Yamanouchi from Oita Trinita and Shoichiro Sakamoto from Zweigen Kanazawa.   

Although Albirex has yet to play any competitive match this season, the Stags will come into this game buoyed by their narrow 2-1 victory over Malaysian side Felda United in their AFC Cup Group G opener. New signings Son and Amri both got their names on the scoresheet in that game.

Albirex defender Tomoki Menda will however play no part due to suspension, after his dismissal against Tampines on the final day of last season.  

With this game doubling up as a league fixture, the result after 90 minutes of regulation time will be taken into account for the standings. Should there be a tie, no extra-time will be played and the match will go straight into penalties to decide the winner of the Great Eastern Community Shield.

Suspension: Tomoki Menda (Albirex Niigata (S))

Albirex Niigata (S) - LWLLW

29/10/16     Albirex Niigata (S) 2-0 Tampines Rovers (Singapore Cup)

26/10/16    Albirex Niigata (S) 1-5 Tampines Rovers

20/10/16     Home United 3-1 Albirex Niigata (S)

14/10/16     Albirex Niigata (S) 3-0 Hougang United

30/09/16    Warriors FC 2-0 Albirex Niigata (S)

Tampines Rovers - WWLLW

21/02/17    Tampines Rovers 2-1 Felda United (AFC Cup)

24/01/17    Global FC 2-0 Tampines Rovers (AFC Champions League)

29/10/16     Albirex Niigata (S) 2-0 Tampines Rovers (Singapore Cup)

26/10/16    Albirex Niigata (S) 1-5 Tampines Rovers

22/10/16    Tampines Rovers 2-0 Balestier Khalsa

Head to Head (S.League)

26/10/16    Albirex Niigata (S) 1-5 Tampines Rovers

24/06/16    Tampines Rovers 1-0 Albirex Niigata (S)

16/04/16     Albirex Niigata (S) 1-0 Tampines Rovers

13/11/15    Albirex Niigata (S) 0-1 Tampines Rovers

06/05/15    Tampines Rovers 0-0 Albirex Niigata (S)

Tags:
  • Great Eastern
  • S.league
  • Hyundai
  • Albirex Niigata (S)
  • Tampines Rovers