News • March 9, 2016
Stags and Tigers Fly Singapore Flag High In AFC Cup
Written By: Aysha Ridzuan
Both Tampines Rovers and Balestier Khalsa both successfully secured three points in their AFC Cup group stage games on Tuesday night to cap off an amazing night for Singapore football on the continental stage.
The Stags continued their unbeaten run in Group E after defeating Selangor FA 1-0, while the Tigers achieved their first victory of 2016 after beating Hong Kong Premier League defending champions Kitchee SC with the same scoreline at Jalan Besar Stadium.
Both sides are also leading the pack in their group after two matches – Tampines with six points, Balestier with four in Group F – and are on track to qualify for the next stage of the competition.
Despite creating plethora of chances throughout the game and dominating their opponents, Kitchee paid for their profligacy in front of goal as well as their failure to break down Balestier’s defensive unit of Fadli Kamis, Hanafi Salleh, Emir Lotanic and Sheikh Hadi.
The hosts opened the scoring from a counter-attack, when winger Fadhil Noh squared the ball to an unmarked Zulkiffli Hassim, who slammed the ball home from close-range on the 31st minute.
Minutes later, the Tigers should have doubled their lead when they were awarded a penalty after Miroslav Kristic was brought down by Wang Zhenpeng inside the box. However, the Kitchee custodian redeemed himself by blocking the striker’s shot from the spot.
Across the Causeway, Tampines managed to beat Malaysia Super League leaders Selangor in the Group E clash at MP Selayang Stadium even without their strongest squad available.
The visitors started with in-form Jermaine Pennant and Billy Mehmet on the bench, but were still able to pose problems for the Red Giants, who have yet won a game in this competition.
The Stags started well and were ahead in the 26th minute when Hafiz Sujad slipped a loose ball through to an unmarked Fazrul Nawaz, who poked the ball past goalkeeper Norazlan Razali as the Selangor defence tried in vain to appeal for an offside.
Selangor improved in the second-half, but were still lacking in urgency to break down a well-organised Tampines defence and fell to their second loss in three days after they were eliminated from the Malaysia FA Cup last Friday.
Tampines, who beat Sheikh Jamal Dhanmondi 4-0 in their opening game, go two points clear at the top of Group E and will face Ceres La Salle FC next week, while Balestier will next face Kaya FC in the Philippines.
Selangor FA vs Tampines Rovers photo courtesy of Asiana.my