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SPL 2022: Tampines Rovers 2-0 Geylang International

Goals from Yasir Hanapi and Boris Kopitovic guide Stags to eastern derby double over Geylang International

Boris Kopitovic of Tampines Rovers celebrates his goal in the eastern derby against Geylang International. PHOTO: FAIZAL BASIR, SPORTPLUS.SG

Singapore, 19 June 2022 - After a long international break, the AIA Singapore Premier League kicked off with an absolute classic in the eastern derby match between Tampines Rovers and Geylang International at Our Tampines Hub.

The last time these two teams played, we witnessed a Boris Kopitovic masterclass as his winner from outside the box gave the Stags a 3-2 win.

More photos from this match in our Photo Gallery here.

Gavin Lee, the coach of Tampines Rovers, shared his views before the game on how he used the time off to work on the team’s defensive approach with the Stags not being able to keep a clean sheet throughout the season so far.

Noor Ali, the coach of Geylang International, emphasised the need for his Eagles to end their nine-game winless streak. They would be hoping their new loan signing in Tajeli Salamat from Lion City Sailors would be just the spark they need.

The home side started with a star-studded bench with Gavin Lee resting key players in the form of Yasir Hanapi, Taufik Suparno and Christopher Van Huizen while adopting a youthful approach in his starting eleven by introducing players like Ong Yu En, Andrew Aw and Adam Reefdy into the frame.

Tampines Rovers's Japanese maestro Kyoga Nakamura bossing the midfield for his side in the eastern derby against Geylang International. PHOTO: FAIZAL BASIR, SPORTPLUS.SG

Geylang’s standout in their starting eleven sees Tajeli adopting his favourable right-back position with Sime Zuzul, hoping to get amongst the goals alongside Vincent Bezecourt.

It was a cagey affair in the first 10 minutes, with Geylang putting most of the pressure on Tampines with their attacks from the right-hand side. Tajeli, the centre of attention with his tenacious tackling and overlapping runs from the right-back position, was giving the Eagles additional attacking support but to no avail as they could not find a way past the stubborn Stags.

Ong Yu En sadly was substituted early in the 16th minute after a clash with his teammate, which saw Yasir Hanapi coming into the game fresh from his recovery from Covid.

No way through for Geylang's Sime Zuzul, who was kept at arm's length in the eastern derby. PHOTO: FAIZAL BASIR, SPORTPLUS.SG

Tampines Rover should be thanking their goalkeeper Syazwan Buhari, who was in fine form, saving goal-scoring shots from Sime Zuzul, Vincent Bezecourt and Hazzuwan Halim.

The game showed its fiery nature with Zehrudin Medmedovic getting the first yellow card of the game after a reckless sliding tackle on Bezecourt in the 23rd minute.

The deadlock was broken in the 33rd minute by their super-sub, Yasir Hanapi, with a well-taken volley following a delightful cross by Mehmedovic from the left flank. There was a question of offside, but referee Jansen Foo pointed to the centre circle, 1-0 to the Stags against the run of play.

Yasir Hanapi celebrates his opening goal for Tampines Rovers in the match against Geylang International at Our Tampines Hub. PHOTO: FAIZAL BASIR, SPORTPLUS.SG

The end of the first half saw Tampines taking the lead with their only shot on target, whilst Geylang failed to put away any out of their five attempts.

Geylang introduced Ahmad Syahir for Khairul Hairie at the start of the second half, which saw Faizal Roslan taking up Tajeli’s right-back position. Tajeli moved into a right midfield position with Hazzuwan swapping flanks to the left.

This gave Geylang a chance to start the second half the same way they did the first but with even more intense high press.

Geylang International's Huzaifah Abdul Aziz (number 11) was sent off for a second bookable offence. PHOTO: FAIZAL BASIR, SPORTPLUS.SG

The change in tactics nearly paid dividends in the 58th minute when Tajeli was played through by Bezecourt down the right flank. Unfortunately, the loanee couldn’t deliver a better ball into the box for the likes of Sime Zuzul.