Ceres Run Riot At Jalan Besar As Tampines Crash Out Of AFC Cup

Photo: Christina Seah-Rodrigues

Aaron Chan
Writer / Editor
The Unofficial S.League Podcast

Tampines Rovers suffered a crushing 4-2 defeat at the hands of Ceres Negros last evening, ending their hopes of entering the knockout stages of the AFC Cup.

The Stags were left stunned in the 5th minute when Izwan Mahbud played an awful pass straight to the feet of OJ Porteria, who floated in a cross with pin-point accurancy for Bienvenido Marañón to head home for the opening goal.

Tampines nearly euaqlised seven minutes later when Shahdan Sulaiman's free kick was flicked on to Daniel Bennett but he booted it over the crossbar from point blank range. 

The miss would prove costly as Tampines went further behind in the 23rd minute when Bienvenido doubled both his personal and the club's tally by tapping Manuel Ott's splendid pass from close range.

Tampines managed to pull a goal back just two minutes later when Yasir Hanapi robbed Japanese centre back Kota Kawase outside the Busmen's box and fired past a stranded Roland Müller.

The Stags had barely finished congratulating the 27 year old when fellow Singapore international Shakir Hamzah was given his marching orders for a dangerous lunge on Fernando Rodríguez. Needing to shore up the defence, Tampines Head Coach Jürgen Raab brought on Ismadi Mukhtar at the expense of Croatian striker Ivan Džoni.

Photo: Christina Seah-Rodrigues

The woes did not end there for Tampines as Ismadi gave away a penalty just before the stroke of half-time for a handball and Rodríguez promptly sent Izwan the wrong way to make it 3-1.

Khairul Amri was thrown on in the hope of that he could launch a comeback and the 32 year old took just five minutes to make an impact, drawing a penalty when Junior Muñoz tugged too hard at his shirt for the referee's liking. Yasir blasted the spot kick home and right there it seemed like Tampines could go on to earn at least a draw out of the match.

Alas, it was not to be as Kawase rose the highest in the 66th minute to thump his header past Izwan and put the game out of Tampines' reach as well. Throughout the second half, it was evident that the numerical disadvantage and Ceres's superiority in keeping possession quashed a Tampines resurgence beyond the bounds of possibility.

With the victory, Ceres Negros finished as winners of Group G and they will face a stern test in the form of Johor Darul Ta'zim in the knockout stages.

Ceres Head Coach Risto Vidaković was pleased with the victory "It's really difficult to play here and we knew we had to win. Our players did really well, they gave everything they had in this game and the previous games and I think we deserve to go on to the next round." said the Serb.

On the other hand, Rabb cut a disappointed figure at the post match conference. "Look at how many mistakes we made. We were really nervous. I do not understand why. If you looked at our preparations leading to the match, we looked really good. That is the biggest question for me - why couldn't the team deliver (at the crucial moment)? We were in a better situation than Ceres as they were on top while we were (the underdogs) coming from behind. They were under more pressure." 

"I think we were simply not good enough today to beat Ceres and as a team we must look on how to improve from here." said the former Young Lions coach.

Photo: Christina Seah-Rodrigues

Full-Time at Jalan Besar Stadium - AFC Cup Group G (3 May 2017):

Tampines Rovers 2 :  4 Ceres Negros

Tampines - Yasir Hanapi 25', 60' (p)
Ceres - Bienvenido Marañón 6', 23', Fernando Rodríguez 45' (p), Kota Kawase 66'

Tampines - Izwan Mahbud, Daniel Bennett, Jufri Taha, Shakir Hamzah, Son Yong-Chan (Khairul Amri 53') Shahdan Sulaiman, Yasir Hanapi, Mustafic Fahrudin, Fazli Ayob, Ivan Džoni (Ismadi Mukhtar 30', Madhu Mohana 70'), Ryotaro Megumi

Ceres - Roland Müller, Carlos de Murga, Kota Kawase (Luke Woodland 82'), Iain Ramsay, Manuel Ott (Martin Steuble 67'), Kevin Ingreso, Junior Muñoz, Fernando Rodríguez (Jason de Jong 89'), Jeffrey Christiaens, OJ Porteria, Bienvenido Marañón

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