Conceding a late equaliser at Our Tampines Hub on Sunday (3 December) was undoubtedly a disappointment for the Lion City Sailors as a helter-skelter first leg of the 2023 Singapore Cup semi-final ended 3-3.
But a draw is hardly the worst result to bring back to Bishan Stadium as the Sailors play hosts to Tampines Rovers for the second leg on Wednesday (6 December) night.
In 13 home games across the Singapore Premier League and Singapore Cup competitions in 2023, the Sailors have won 11 and lost just one.
Midfield playmaker Adam Swandi firmly believes that the Bishan fortress will help his Sailors put a gritty Stags side to the sword.
“We’re always confident enough going out for every match but playing at Bishan gives us a sense of home and that something extra – and teams know we’re not easily defeated in this stadium. So, we have to use that to our advantage,” said the 27-year-old.
“We have an incredible set of fans in The Crew and they’re always behind us. With them behind us and pushing us from the stands, we’ll definitely go out with everything we’ve got and get the win for them.”
Full-back Harith Kanadi has only been with the Sailors for four months since joining in August but has already embraced the Sailors’ philosophy of demanding excellence and success.
“The fact that we’re all disappointed with the draw shows the hunger and desire in this team. Everyone here has set high goals for themselves and the team. So it’s no secret that all of us want to go to the final and win a trophy for this club and for our fans.”
To do so, the Sailors will need to be on top of their game against a quality Tampines side and require big performances from all – including Adam and Harith.
In his first start since September 16, Adam put up a purposeful shift in the fierce midfield battle against the Stags’ Kyoga Nakamura and Shah Shahiran, and he is prepared to do it all again to ensure the Sailors progress into the final.
“Everyone in the league knows Tampines is a good passing team which likes to play the ball around and capitalise down the middle. I thought I did okay to help the team defend and stop some attacks, but I definitely want to do better in the second leg,” said the Singapore international.
“As a team, we gave them a bit too much space to create chances in the first half although we did much better and rectified that issue in the second half. We have to be 100 percent focused and make sure they don’t find as much joy in attack.”
Harith acquitted himself well against Faris Ramli in his first-ever Sailors start, and he is hungry for more in the second leg on Wednesday.
“It was definitely a sweet moment for me because I’ve waited patiently for this opportunity for some time and it came in a huge game – a Cup semi-final. Honestly I was struggling a bit for match fitness, but playing with the likes of Bailey (Wright), Hariss (Harun) and Diego (Lopes) helped me to boost my confidence. They were very encouraging and helped me a lot throughout the game,” said the 23-year-old, whose last start came in late July when he was still with Young Lions.
“Of course there are areas in which I could have done better, but I’m satisfied with the runout that I had and the feedback I’ve got from the coaches has also been great. Now my job is to get fully prepared for this second leg and help the team get into the final on Saturday.