S.League: Will Pennant prove to be the difference this season for the Tampines Rovers?

Rovers will next play Home United FC (away) on March 3 and then meet defending champions Brunei DPMM on March 19.

Tampines Rovers have got off to a great start this season, after narrowly missing out on the S-League title last season to Brunei DPMM.

If we go by their performances in the first two matches of the 2016 season, scoring goals will not be an issue at all. They scored three in the first match against Geylang International FC, but unfortunately had to settle for a draw. In the second match, however, the attack and defence worked in tandem to seal a 4-1 victory over Hougang United FC.

Jermaine Pennant, the former Liverpool and Arsenal winger, signed a 12 month contract with the Rovers at the start of this season. He must have been really stoked at the end of the first match, which saw two red cards and a late goal by teammate Muhammad Yasir Bin Hanapi to draw the match they were leading 2-0 at one stage. Pennant started the second match against Hougang, which they won convincingly, and opened his account for the Rovers.

Rovers will next play Home United FC (away) on March 3 and then travel to the home of the defending champions Brunei DPMM on March 19. Pennant, who is a deadball specialist, will play a very crucial role if Rovers are to go to the next level. His signing has made the local press dub Rovers the title favourites, but as the first match illustrated only scoring goals won't be enough.

They have the AFC Cup to contend with as well. Rovers are in Group E along with Malaysia's Selangor FA, The Philippines' Ceres La Salle FC and Bangladesh's Lt. Sheikh Jamal Dhanmondi Club, who were meted out a 4-0 thumping in the first match. On March 8, they take on Selangor FA, which will a tough match, followed by a meeting with Ceres La Salle on March 15.

Though Pennant will be their marquee player, it's the other international in the team, Canadian winger Jordan Webb, who could well turn out to be the key. He's somewhat of a veteran in the S-league, having played for Hougang United (scored 33 goals), Home United (scored 8 goals) and Young Lions FC (scored 8 goals). He was on the scoresheet in the first match of the season for the Rovers, and coach V Sundaram Moorthy will be hoping that Pennant and Webb form a good understanding.