Tampines vow to go all out to advance in AFC Cup

The S.League champions need only one point against the Myanmar side to ensure qualification to the next round of the AFC Cup in their final Group H clash
The equation is simple for Tampines Rovers: avoid defeat against Nay Pyi Taw FC on Tuesday night and they will qualify for the round of 16 of the AFC Cup for the first time since 2011.

On paper, the Stags' final Group H assignment looks like a straightforward task, especially with home advantage against the Myanmar side, who are making their debut in the tournament.

But the S.League champions went down to a surprise 3-1 defeat in the Burmese capital back in March when both met for the first time, which has left coach Salim Moin wary about the rematch with them at the Jalan Besar Stadium.

"They are a very good team, hardworking and well-organised," he pointed out during the pre-match press conference at Hotel Royal on Monday afternoon. "They will be fighting very hard tomorrow."

Nonetheless, the new Stags boss is keen to secure a berth in the next round in his first continental foray and promised that his team would give their all.

"We are not looking at a draw at the moment, we are looking for a win," he declared. "To play for a draw, I should say, is a little bit risky, so we want to go for a win and from there, we will see how the result will be."

Salim also stressed that Nay Pyi Taw's key strength boiled down to their teamwork, as opposed to the individual talent of their foreign imports like one-time Sheffield Wednesday forward Michele Di Piedi, and S.League alumni Obadin Aikhena and Cesar Delgado.

While Japanese centre-back Kunihiro Yamashita is out with injury and forward Jamil Ali is a doubt for the hosts, the visitors have joint-top scorer Jung Yoon-sik ruled out as well. But apart from the Korean midfielder, Nay Pyi Taw coach Myo Hlaing Win will have a full squad available to him for a must-win game.

Nay Pyi Taw sit second in their domestic league after nine games and are only a point behind leaders Yadanarbon. But thanks to a recent break, their last competitive match was a 3-3 draw against Pune FC in their penultimate AFC Cup game 12 days ago.

"Last month, our matches in my country are very, very close, so our players were very tired," Myo said. "But this time, our national league gave a rest for one month so we have a lot of time to take a rest, and we are ready and our players are fit.

"We don't have any pressure for this match, this is our first time here in the AFC Cup... We will try to give our best for tomorrow's match."

Tampines midfielder Shahdan Sulaiman, described as the team's "livewire" by Salim, is also keen for his side to put some disappointing recent results behind them by securing qualification.

"The players have mixed feelings; we've played well in one game and we don’t play well in another game," the 25-year-old playmaker admitted.

"But for tomorrow it’s a brand new game and it’s a game for qualification, so I think all the players will look forward to tomorrow's match. I would say we are not under pressure because we are playing at home.

"We are currently second, so we don’t need to rely on other results. I think it's quite important that we make it through to the next round."