Tampines Rovers hoisted the AIA Community Shield aloft for a record fifth time last night after defeating Hougang United at the Jalan Besar Stadium.
A slick performance from the Singapore Cup holders saw them triumph over last season’s AIA Singapore Premier League (SPL) second runners-up in a 3-0 victory.
Close to 2,000 spectators showed up despite the ongoing COVID-19 situation, which has raised fears in Singapore, to witness the traditional curtain-raiser to the SPL season.
“I thought that the team did well in terms of sticking to the plan and keeping our style and identity,” Tampines head coach Gavin Lee said. “All credit goes to the boys and I am very proud of the performance.”
Clement Teo’s Cheetahs were playing for the first time in the fixture, having stepped in to replace defending league champions Brunei DPMM who were unable to travel due to precautionary restrictions.
They got off to a strong start but Tampines soon settled into their groove and began to pull Hougang this way and that way with some smooth play.
Khairulhin Khalid made a couple of good saves to keep the game goal-less at half-time, during which both clubs and the Football Association of Singapore (FAS) expressed their support for those affected by the COVID-19 situation.
The FAS matched donations of $5,000 each from Tampines and Hougang, and included the gate proceeds as part of the total donation of $25,000 to The Courage Fund, which is facilitated by Community Chest and National Council of Social Service (NCSS).
The Stags continued their dominance as the game resumed and deservedly broke the deadlock on 56 minutes. Irwan Shah surged forward and played a one-two with Yasir Hanapi, whose delightful dinked return pass was adroitly finished by the left-back from a narrow angle.
Irwan then turned provider eight minutes later as he took Kyoga Nakamura’s superb through ball in his stride and crossed for Boris Kopitovic to finish smartly from six yards.
It was game over on 69 minutes as Yasir notched his second assist of the evening by setting up Jordan Webb to hammer into the top left corner from 16 yards.
Webb’s direct red card with 10 minutes remaining blighted Tampines’ night, but they still came away with a fifth win in as many Community Shield appearances and their first since 2014.