Tashkent Test for Tampines Rovers

Singapore Premier League side set for AFC Champions League Group Stage Debut

Image credit: Tampines Rovers Facebook

Lokomotiv Stadium: Singapore Premier League side Tampines Rovers are set to make their AFC Champions League Group Stage bow on Friday, 25 June 2021 at 10pm (Singapore time) against last season's J-League runners up and 2008 Champions League winners Gamba Osaka.

The Stags who are in Tashkent, Uzbekistan, the appointed centralised bubble venue to host the East Zone group stages for Group H, will face further tests in the form of two-time Champions League winners Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors FC (2008, 2016), with Chiangrai United completing the group.

While Gamba Osaka are not currently having the best of seasons in the J1 League, sitting in 16th position out of 20 teams, they remain clear favourites in the tie and Gavin Lee's charges will need to be at their best to come away with a result in the opening tie.

File Photo: SportPlus.sg

The Tampines Rovers Head Coach would not have it any other way however saying, "To begin with there is no easy group in the AFC Champions League. Given understandably the stature of Singapore football compared to our counterparts overseas."

"It is always going to be a challenge, the question is how do we frame our thinking to approach this challenge - do we try to run away an seek easier competitions or find excuses, or we just take it head on and try to be as much as ourselves as possible when we play those teams," the 31-year-old added.

Lee was philosophical when asked how he fancied his side's chances and what would be deemed as a good result or KPI for the Stags. He simply wants his charges to retain their identity whoever the opposition, and will encourage his players to express themselves, albeit with a bit more discipline.

File Photo: SportPlus.sg

"When we step onto the pitch, we want to express our identity. We do understand that the competition is a lot higher (than the SPL), it is going to be a lot more demanding," he reflected.

"Oppositions are going to defend better, they are going to be better on the ball, so naturally we might be out of possession a little more than we used to."

"But that doesn't change how we want to approach the game when we have the ball, we want to score goals, defend clever and have a game plan - we want to try and win each game as much as possible."

File Photo: SportPlus.sg

Tampines Rovers' AFC Champions League opener against Gamba Osaka will be televised live on Channel 114 FOX Sports Asia Channel at 10.05pm Singapore time.

Group H Fixtures

Fri, 25 June 2021:

Tampines Rovers vs Gamba Osaka

Mon, 28 June 2021: Chiangrai United vs Tampines Rovers

Thu, 1 July 2021:

Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors vs Tampines Rovers

Sun, 4 July 2021:

Tampines Rovers vs Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors

Wed, 7 July 2021:

Gamba Osaka vs Tampines Rovers

Sat, 10 July 2021: Tampines Rovers vs Chiangrai United

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