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Strong Tampines restart pleases Tan

Tampines Rovers coach Steven Tan was delighted after watching his side make it two wins in a row with a 3-1 victory over Balestier Khalsa on Saturday evening.

By Gabriel Tan

The victory ensured that Tampines picked up maximum points from their opening two games of the second round of the 2012 Great Eastern-YEO's S.League campaign, and also helped them pull level with leaders DPMM FC, although they remain second on goal difference.

After Balester winger Ruhaizad Ismail had cancelled out Sead Hadzibulic's opener in the 25th minute with a sweet volley, the Stags went back in front when Jamil Ali poked home from close range nine minutes later, before Hadzibulic grabbed his second in the 70th minute to put the result beyond doubt.
Saturday's victory came right after last weekend's last-gasp 1-0 win over DPMM, and after a slow start to the season, Tampines are back on track to retain the league title; something Tan is understandably pleased about.

"These first two games were important for us," he said after the match. "We wanted to get all six points and put the pressure on DPMM.

"Now, hopefully we can maintain it."


Back-to-Back Wins put Tampines on Track

“Yeah, it’s back on track,” beamed Tampines Rovers coach Steven Tan, referring to the S.League title race.

It would be hard to disagree with him, if one had seen the manner in which his Stags claimed maximum points for the second week in a row when they defeated Balestier Khalsa 3-1 on Saturday evening.

The result at Clementi followed success on the same ground against league leaders DPMM FC last week, and coupled with the Bruneians’ stunning first home loss to SAFFC on the same evening, it meant Tampines are now behind DPMM only on goal difference.

Back-to-back wins in the first games after the mid-season break have given Tan and his charges the morale boost they badly crave, as they look to defend the league title they had worked hard to win last year.

“The first two games (since that break) are important for us,” he highlighted.

And if the hero against DPMM was Gligor Gligorov, who has been with the club since January, then mid-season recruit Sead Hadzibulic was the star turn against Balestier.

Having experienced a relatively quiet debut, Hadzibulic made his second game one to remember when he scored in only the third minute.



S.League Player to Watch - Week 15: Zulkiffli Hassim

This week, picks Balestier Khalsa's flying winger Zulkiffli Hassim as our Great Eastern-YEO's S.League Player to Watch.

By Gabriel Tan

Last Sunday, Balestier got their title bid back on track with a hard-fought 1-0 win over Home United, and they are now just five points behind leaders DPMM FC in fifth.
The victory over the third-placed Protectors was once again built on a determined team performance as Darren Stewart's well-drilled charges kept the likes of Frederic Mendy, Shotaro Ihata and Qiu Li at bay with a gritty display.

And while every member of the Tigers team played their part at the Toa Payoh Stadium last weekend, it was Zulkiffli who once again came to the fore by grabbing a brilliant winner midway through the first half, when he raced down the right wing and cut past a challenge, before drilling an effort in off the far post past a hapless Lionel Lewis.

Considering Balestier had made grinding out a 1-0 win their speciality this season, having someone like the 26-year-old in the side is crucial for them as he is the one man capable of creating something out of nothing, as he had done earlier this year with another excellent solo effort in the 1-0 win over Hougang.

On Saturday, Stewart's men take on defending champions Tampines Rovers, a side they beat 1-0 early on in the campaign but who are in a bit of form having beaten DPMM 1-0 last week.

Given Stags coach Steven Tan's preference of a three-man defence, Zulkiffli is likely to enjoy plenty of space down the flanks if the Tampines wide midfielders get too caught up in attacking and fail to drop back to help out.

And should that happen, we could just witness the Tigers record back-to-back victories over last season's runners-up and champions come Saturday.


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