News • February 3, 2014
Barisic Brace Sink Determined Tampines
Written by: Phoon Jia Hui
Despite putting up a valiant fight, Great Eastern Yeo’s S.League champions Tampines Rovers fell short as they suffered a 2-1 extra-time defeat at the hands of Hong Kong’s South China AA in the AFC Champions League first round play-off.
Andrew Barisic’s brace on either side of Miljan Mrdakovic’s strike sealed the win for Cheung Po Chun’s side and set a date with Chonburi FC of Thailand in the next round on Sunday.
Tampines meanwhile had two players sent off as Imran Sahib and Mrdakovic both saw red.
The first chance of the match fell to the visitors when Sasa Kakjut pounced on a poor Kawakami clearance before hitting a cross-shot which flew over the head of Tampines goalkeeper Hyrulnizam Juma’at.
While South China were the more dominant side in the opening exchanges, the hosts had their fair share of chances as well.
First, Aleksandar Duric’s header off Shahdan Sulaiman’s freekick went straight into the gloves of Yapp Hung Fai on 17 minutes. The 43-year-old then had another pop at goal three minutes later and his effort this time was deflected into the side-netting before Norihiro Kawakami headed straight at Yapp.
Those misses would prove costly as the visitors took the lead with Barisic tapping home Ticao’s low cross from close range in the 20th minute. The Australian forward nearly doubled the lead for his side minutes later but saw his header just clear the bar.
Tampines had another sniff of goal right after the hour mark but Kawakami’s downward header was cleared off the line by a red shirt before things got from bad to worse for Salim Moin’s charges when Imran was dismissed for his second bookable offence on 34 minutes.
Sensing a need to change things, Salim brought on Luis Closa early in the second half in a move which paid dividends. In the 64th minute, the Paraguayan did brilliantly to pick out the run of Shaiful Esah and the latter sent a cross to the near post for Mrdakovic to stab home the equaliser.
Closa then found Mrdakovic with a well-weighted pass five minutes later but the former Serbia Olympic forward fired wide under pressure from two South China defenders.
Tampines then had to endure an onslaught from the Caroliners who peppered shots on Hyrulnizam’s goal but the national goalkeeper repelled everything that came his way.
With both teams still unable to find a winner in regulation time, the match proceeded to extra-time where by then, the Stags were looking deflated. To further worsen matters, they found themselves down to nine men in the 113th minute when Mrdakovic also picked up his second yellow and was sent for an early shower.
In a replica of his first goal, Barisic then dealt the killer blow in the 102nd minute to send South China into the second round play-offs and end Tampines’ Champions League dreams.
With this result, Tampines will now play in the AFC Cup and will compete with South China’s league rivals Kitchee FC, Pune FC from India and Myanmar’s Nay Pyi Taw in Group H.
Tampines Rovers: Hyrulnizam Juma’at (GK); Anaz Hadee (Jamil Ali 55’), Norihiro Kawakami, Kunihiro Yamashita, Shaiful Esah; Imran Sahib, Mustafic Fahrudin (C), Shahdan Sulaiman (Ang Zhi Wei 112’), Ismadi Mukhtar (Luis Closa 55’); Aleksandar Duric, Miljan Mrdakovic.
South China: Yapp Hung Fai (GK); Lee Chi Ho, Chak Ting Fung (Jack Sealy 90’), Chan Wai Ho (C); Ticao, Lee Wai Lim (Lee Hong Lim 59’), Kwok Kin Pong; Chan Siu Ki, Sasa Kajkut, Andrew Barisic.