Sports

Football: Stags eye Young Lions scalp and a spot in the 2020 AFC Champions League qualifiers

SINGAPORE – Refusing to think that other teams will do them a favour, Tampines Rovers know that only a perfect run in their last three Singapore Premier League games will assure them second place behind champions Brunei DPMM.

The top local team will earn a place in the 2020 Asian Football Confederation Champions League qualifiers.

The Stags are on course after grinding out 1-0 wins against both DPMM and Warriors FC to edge ahead of third-placed Hougang United on goal difference, with both teams on 43 points.

On Sunday night at Our Tampines Hub, Gavin Lee's side can seal the deal with a win over Young Lions, as they have a nine-goal advantage over Hougang that is highly unlikely to be bettered by the Cheetahs who play the Wasps in Bandar Seri Begawan at the same time.

Showing where their priorities lie, the Stags rested the likes of 15-goal Jordan Webb, Ryutaro Megumi, Shahdan Sulaiman and Yasir Hanapi in the 3-1 Singapore Cup loss to Warriors in mid-week.

Lee was unapologetic about the defeat, saying: "The Cup loss to Warriors was disappointing, but we were not dominated and the young ones did well to show their potential and ability.

"It was worth the risk because of the hectic schedule. We have four games in 12 days, we also have many players involved with the national team, so freshness is key as we gun for the Champions League qualifiers.

"Of course, we are disappointed not to win the league, but considering we were fourth last season, we have improved and can count it as a bit of success."

While the Young Lions are eighth in the nine-team league, Lee stressed that his team "will not underestimate" Fandi Ahmad's outfit, against whom they drew 1-1 in July.

Lee added: "Everyone in the team is aware of what needs to be done, we are pumped up and eager to win and secure second place to serve as a bigger platform to build for next season."

On the other hand, Hougang are hoping the feel-good factor from Wednesday's (Sept 25) last-gasp 2-1 win over Albirex Niigata in the Singapore Cup will carry theRead More – Source