Pre-season friendlies have a different feel about them, don't they? Yes, these fixtures might be designed for players to gain match fitness, improve squad cohesiveness, and test out new tactics. But, most crucially, it’s a signal that the new season is upon us and that’s definitely something to be excited about.
Tampines Rovers commenced our pre-season friendlies with a training friendly against Tanjong Pagar United where both sides played two 60-minute matches (thirty-minute halves).
Fans who viewed both fixtures from the various vantage points that Our Tampines Hub has to offer were able to catch new signings Shuya Yamashita, Firdaus Kasman, Ong Yu En, Sunny Tia, and Chris van Huizen in action. And it was Chris who opened the floodgates shortly after the referee blew the first whistle.
Tanjong Pagar would equalise shortly before the conclusion of the first half with a low driven shot that crept past our custodian Danial Iliya. The Stags would concede again early on in the second half after giving away a penalty. New Tanjong Pagar signing Mirko Sugic converted from the spot kick to give the Jaguars the lead. However, despite being a goal down and only being a short friendly fixture, the lads were determined to bounce back.
It was Taufik Suparno who would equalise for us after scoring a brilliant header from a Yasir Hanapi corner kick. The Stags quickly returned to their positions for the restart with Kyoga Nakamura rallying his teammates.
Minutes later, our towering Montenegrin Boris Kopitovic would give Tampines the lead. After a clever bit of play, the Stags managed to pick out Big Bad Boris who duly slotted home the Stags' third and final goal.
The first match ended 3-2 to the Stags.
Following a 10-minute break, the second fixture commenced and we sent out an entirely new team. While senior team players like Marc Ryan Tan and Amirul Haikal, as well as new signings Ong Yu En and Sunny Tia, were included, the team largely comprised of U-21 squad members. Likewise, the Jaguars shuffled their deck as well to include their younger players.
The youthful Stags side did well but the lads were unlucky to concede first. Despite that, they did well to remain resolute and responded well.
New signing Ong Yu En bagged a brace, including one sweet free kick strike that curled into the back of the net. A trio of Stags, Amirul Haikal, Jovan Ang and Matthias Koesno also added their names to the scoresheets, with cool finishes from each of them helping the young Stags side to a 5-1 victory at the end of the 60 minutes.
Reflections From The Stags
It was the first time in months that Tampines Rovers took the field against opposition and many felt it was good to be back on the pitch.
One player who relished the opportunity to be playing pre-season friendlies again was Taufik Suparno. "The team is feeling motivated to do well this season," reveals Taufik." On a personal note, he explains, “I feel stronger than I did last season and it felt good to score a goal in this game even though it's a training friendly. Hopefully, I can score more goals this season to help the team win.”
Another player who felt good to be back on the pitch was Marc Ryan Tan. He adds, "Results don’t matter as much but it’s nice to get into the flow of things again after the pre-season break. This is just the beginning.”
Adam Reedy echoed Marc's sentiments. Reflecting on his run during the second fixture of the evening, he shares, "It was a good run for us youngsters, and I do believe that with hard work and trust from the coaching staff, we can have a good season ahead."
Pre-season is also about shaking off rustiness and Ong Yu En reminded us that it takes time. Despite bagging a brace, he shares, "it was a good effort by the team but I did feel a bit rusty. So, I still need to work on a number of things and I will continue to do so to be ready for the start of the season."
As our Head Coach Gavin Lee asserts, these friendly games were a good indicator for what the team has done so far.
"We've done well in a few areas thus far but we need to work on other ones in the coming weeks," mentions Gavin. "As for the second game, it's always nice to see all our young talents playing together and trying to embrace the same tactical principles that the older guys do. It was good to see them maintain that level of intensity throughout the game."
Stay tuned for more coverage of friendly fixtures in the weeks to come, as your Stags get #PRIMED for 2022!