Singapore Premier League • February 23, 2014
Mrdakovic Strike Sinks Protectors in Season Opener
Written by: Kenneth Ho
Tampines Rovers kicked off their Great Eastern Yeo’s S.League 2014 season with a 1-0 win over ten-man Home United and clinched their first piece of silverware in the form of the Charity Shield.
With this match also doubling up as a league encounter, it ensured the Stags racked up their first three points in their quest to retain the S.League title that they have held for three consecutive years.
The Stags were able to attain victory thanks to Miljan Mrdakovic’s strike right after the restart when the Tampines marquee signing scored his second goal in two games by volleying home Roberto Martinez’s cross from the right in the 47th minute.
The Protectors’ task of securing a result was made even harder following a red card to forward Qiu Li in the 81st minute for an off-the-ball incident.
The result was particularly harsh on Home, who were easily the more threatening of the two teams with midfield maestro Lee Kwan Woo pulling all strings from midfield and orchestrating attacks after attacks.
The Korean was involved right from the go and had the first real chance of the game when his free kick from 25 yards had Hyrulnizam Juma’at scrambling to make a save in the eighth minute.
Lee was involved again after playing a neat one-two with Qiu, before the Singaporean international unleashed a powerful shot at goal which Hyrulnizam was equal to.
Lee was then responsible for the Protectors’ best chance of the game in the 71st minute.
Displaying superb awareness and vision, Lee dinked a ball over Tampines’ backline for Yasir Hanapi but the latter failed to hit the target when he had only the keeper to beat.
The Stags on the other hand were struggling to carve out chances throughout the game apart from Mrdakovic’s goal, with only Aleksandar Duric’s opportunity on the hour mark causing alarm for Home United.
The evergreen striker had found his way into Home United’s six-yard box but with ample space to place his shot, Duric disappointingly volleyed the ball past the far post.
However, that miss proved to be inconsequential eventually as ten-man Home United were unable to find the equaliser and allowed Tampines to earn their fourth successive Charity Shield.
Both teams will now turn their attention to the AFC Cup in their next respective fixtures.
The Stags face Kitchee in the AFC Cup on Wednesday at the Jalan Besar Stadium while Home travel to Maldives to take on New Radiant a day earlier.