Football Tribe SEA Editor
We’re two weeks into January and already the 2020 AFC Champions League campaign is set to kick-off today. Asia’s premier club competition will have its first qualifying rounds played out today, with Singapore Premier League runners-up Tampines Rovers hosting reigning Liga 1 Indonesia champions Bali United at the Jalan Besar Stadium. The match is a rematch of their previous encounter at the same stage of the competition in 2018 that was held at Bali United’s Kapten I Wayan Dipta Stadium, which the Serdadu Tridatu won convincingly 3-1.
Unfortunately licensing issues meant that Bali United’s head coach Stefano Cugurra Teco is unable to take charge of the team for the match, with the role falling into the hands of experienced “football coach guru” Emral Abus. Emral, who took charge of Persib Bandung in Djajang Nurdjaman’s stead during their 2015 Asian campaign, was handed the reins for the match at the Jalan Besar, however the tactics that he will implement are purely Teco’s, meaning that the temporary head coach change will not affect the Serdadu Tridatu whatsoever.
Bali United brought a 20-man strong squad to Singapore, with two of those players arriving slightly later along with Teco due to the trio attending the launch of Bali United’s AFC home jersey at the Dipta first. A number of Bali United’s new signings, including Hariono, Lerby Eliandry, and Gavin Kwan Adsit are included in the squad, as well as key players such as Melvin Platje and Brwa Nouri. However the Serdadu Tridatu will be without Ilija Spasojević, who is still in Montenegro for vacation. Despite this, the Bali United squad that has been brought to Singapore still have that amount of talent and firepower to intimidate the sturdiest of opponents.
“Tampines are a good side, they’re one of the traditional teams of Singaporean football and have won the Singaporean Cup last season. They’ve appeared in Asian competitions several times and are seasoned competitors,” Teco spoke about Tampines to the Bali United official website.
The Brazilian then went on to elaborate his men’s efforts in adapting themselves to the Jalan Besar’s artificial pitch, “We will play on a synthetic pitch and of course Tampines have the advantage since they’ve played on such surfaces for a long time. However we’ve prepared ourselves for this situation by holding several trainings on artificial pitches in Bali as well as testing out the Jalan Besar pitch when we were given the opportunity. I think we’re well prepared for the match and the players have adapted themselves quite nicely.”
The winners of the Tampines-Bali United match will travel to the AAMI Park in Melbourne, Australia to take on 2018-19 A-League regular season 3rd placers Melbourne Victory in one week’s time, while the loser will drop down to the 2020 AFC Cup group stages.