News • February 25, 2016

Comfortable Win For Stags In AFC Cup Opener


Written by: Alex Weaver

Tampines Rovers began their 2016 AFC Cup Group E campaign with a successful night’s work by dispatching Bangladesh Champions Sheikh Jamal Dhanmondi Club 4-0 at the Jalan Besar Stadium on Tuesday evening.

However, it is unlikely that Hougang United – Tampines’ next opponents in the Great Eastern Yeo’s S.League – will offer up so many gaps as Sheikh Jamal did, and allow Jermaine Pennant and Jordan Webb to cause damage to them on Friday night.

Nonetheless, it was still very encouraging to see the Stags’ star-studded frontline serving up some excellent football in front of a crowd of 2,378.

Tampines set the tone for the evening by scoring as early as the second minute. An excellent attacking build-up saw Pennant step over a pass to allow it to run on for Fabian Kwok who was over-lapping on the right.

Kwok, wing-back for the night, crossed for Billy Mehmet in the middle and the latter slid the ball across the line for the opener.

Sheikh Jamal had some players who caused problems for Stags’ defenders, but very little of their play accounted for anything other than hurried and uncontrolled shots on goal.

Their first chance came in the 14th minute when midfielder Sohel Rana forced a good save by Tampines custodian Izwan Mahbud when he shot from distance.

At the other end, Christopher van Huizen wasted a good chance when Mehmet found him on the far post but he fired over the bar.

Sheikh Jamal continued to threaten to cause problems for Izwan, but they were kept at bay by the Tampines defence who prevented their opponents from penetrating with much precision to create any clear-cut chances to equalise.

Van Huizen wasted another great attacking opportunity for Tampines in the 26th minute when he chose to try an unnecessary back-heel flick instead of simply side-footing a pass to the overlapping Kwok.

That was Van Huizen’s final act in the game as he made way for Webb a few minutes, as Stags coach V.Sundramoorthy decided it either was time to find the killer goal or rest the former with the Hougang game coming up.

Whatever the reason was, Sundram’s tactical change created new problems for Sheikh Jamal as Webb ran at the defence at every opportunity.

However, it was centre-forward Mehmet who provided a perfect cross from the right wing for Hafiz Sujad in the 33rd minute,

The left wing-back had made a late run into the box rom the far side, and headed home his first goal of the season to ensure that the his side possessed a two-goal lead at the break.

Pennant and Webb were enjoying their time on the field as they linked up whenever the opportunity presented itself in the early stages of the second period.

It was the Pennant who provided what was arguably the pass of the night in the 50th minute as he played an in-perfect 30-yard pass over the Sheikh Jamal defence to put Webb through on goal.

The finish didn’t match the pass however, and the Canadian sent his shot straight into the legs of Shiekh Jamal custodian Mazharul Islam Himel and the ball was cleared to safety.

The disappointment didn’t last too long however. From the resulting corner, Afiq Yunos smashed home the rebound for the Stags’ third goal in the 52nd minute after Kwon Jun’s initial bullet header at goal was saved by Himel.

The game was effectively over just two minutes later when Pennant crossed delightfully again for Webb in the middle.

Sheikh Jamal defender Topu Barman was tracking the Canadian’s run well, but could only manage to divert the cross into his own goal for Tampines’ fourth and final goal of the game.

With three points already in the bag, Sundramoorthy started to ring in changes after the half-hour mark as his attention turned to his side’s upcoming clash with a stubborn-looking Hougang on Friday evening.

Pennant and Shahdan made way for Fazrul Nawaz and Izddin Shafiq as the Stags saw out the rest of the match with relative ease.

Tampines Rovers head coach V. Sundramoorthy:

It’s good to start well but we can do better. As the season goes on we can improve.

“We have to have fresh legs for the game against Hougang on Friday so we rotated the players tonight. Jermaine did well and you can see why he has played at Liverpool and Arsenal.”

Sheikh Jamal Dhanmondi head coach Shafiqul Islam Manik:

“It was a very unfortunate result tonight as we had chances to come back but my players were not able to finish. We tried to come back but were very unfortunate. The ground was different as we play on grass.

“The communication is good with them and Tampines is a good team. They know each other well.”

Tampines Rovers: Izwan Mahbud (GK), Noh Rahman (C), Shahdan Sulaiman (Izzdin Shafiq 62’), Jermaine Pennant (Fazrul Nawaz 72’), Hafiz Sujad, Billy Mehmet, Christopher van Huizen (Jordan Webb 31’), Fabian Kwok, Yasir Hanapi, Afiq Yunos, Kwon Jun

Sheikh Jamal Dhanmondi Club: Himel (GK) (Sohel 59’), Topu (Enamul 67’), Munna, Linkon, Landing, Nguyen (Kasto 36’), Emeka, Wedson (C), Jamal, Sohel Rana, Yeasin,