Tampines Back To Winning Ways On Asian Front

The match was marred by several fouls in both halves.
Photo: FELDA United Football Club

Aaron Chan
Writer / Editor
The Unofficial S.League Podcast

Tampines Rovers finally got back to winning ways after beating FELDA United at Jengka with a 3-1 scoreline last evening. It was not an easy game for the Stags as FELDA put up a good fight and, on a couple of occasions, threatened to go ahead but were let down by their poor finishing.

The Fighters could have opened the scoring as early as the 11th minute but FELDA striker Lucas  Cano slipped in the box just before he could pull the trigger.

Ryutaro Megumi forced a quick break with a burst down the right flank for Tampines five minutes later but the Japanese winger could only blast his effort wide of the right post.

Cano was in the thick of the action again in the 20th minute when he could have put FELDA ahead if not for Shakir Hamzah's timely intervention, putting in a good block to deny the Argentinian. The Singapore International then displayed explosive pace a minute later to bring the ball down the left but was hacked down by Mootaz Jounaidi, who got flashed with a yellow card immediately.

Moments after the infringement, Liberian midfielder Zah Rahman Krangar started a quick counter, bursting down the middle before threading a magnificent through pass to play Norshahrul Idlan Talaha onside but the Malaysian international was frustrated to see his goal-bound effort blocked by the retreating Jufri Taha.

A moment of madness in the 28th minute saw FELDA custodian Farizal Harun playing a terrible short pass to Mootaz, who was promptly robbed by Yasir Hanapi. The pint-sized attacker found Ivan Džoni open at the far post and there was no way the former Croatia youth international would miss from that range with a gaping goal at his mercy. 

Norshahrul was then booked for playacting in the 40th minute as he flopped to the ground while tussling with Fazli Ayob in the box and the Fighters seemed to run out of ideas with Wan Amirul trying an audacious outside of the boot shot from the right flank which Izwan Mahbud gathered comfortably instead crossing it to Norshahrul and Cano. 

Wan Zack Haikal (FELDA) takes on Shakir Hamzah (Tampines). The former Harimau Muda had a good game but just couldn't finish properly.
Photo: FELDA United Football Club

FELDA came back strongly after the restart and Cano's volley in the 49th minute took an unfortunate bounce off the turf, which took some pace off the ball, enabling Izwan to tip it out for a corner. The Tampines goalkeeper was not so lucky a minute later when he deflected Norshahrul's effort from a tight angle into his own net. 

Mustafić Fahrudin nearly put Izwan in trouble in the 57th minute with a dreadful back pass but the custodian was alert enough to boot it away before the encroaching Cano could get a touch of the ball.

Khairul Amri came on for Džoni in the 64th minute and the talismanic striker would spend only three minutes on the pitch before putting Tampines back in the lead, volleying the ball home with exceptional technique on his left foot off Jufri Taha's splendid long ball.

FELDA did not give up despite going down a second time in the match and Krangar's cut back in the 70th minute was thumped goal-ward by Cano but Jufri somehow managed to stick his leg out to take some pace of the ball, enabling Izwan to stop it before it crept past the line.

Khairul then extended the Stags' lead in the 71st minute when he made a smart run to tap home a fantastic cross in the 6 yard box. 

The scoreline could have been wedged further apart in the dying minutes of the game when Khairul was denied a hat-trick by the offside flag while Yasir chose to take on two defenders at the edge of the box instead of passing it to the open Khairul. However, the match had already been concluded long before these chances and Tampines will no doubt be looking to win against Ceres-Negros FC in their final AFC Cup Group G match in a bid to finish as the best runners-up of the ASEAN region.

The final matchday of Group G will take place on 3rd of May, 2017. 

Group G standings as of 19 April 2017
Source: Asian Football Confederation 

Full-Time at Tun Abdul Razak Stadium, Jengka - AFC Cup Group G (19 April 2017):

FELDA United (Malaysia) - 1
Tampines Rovers (Singapore) - 3


FELDA - Norshahrul Idlan Talaha 50'
Tampines - Ivan Džoni 28', Khairul Amri 67', 71'

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