Singapore Premier League • June 14, 2014
Kaplan Fires Tampines to Third
Written by: Khalis Rifhan
Tampines Rovers maintained their pursuit of defending their Great Eastern Yeo’s S.League title as they cruised to a 1-0 victory over Harimau Muda at Pasir Gudang Stadium on Friday night.
Ex-Geylang International captain Jozef Kaplan, who started in attack alongside Noh Alam Shah, grabbed his first goal for the Stags in the first-half. The Stags continued their dominance in the match after the goal but they failed to hit the back of the net again.
The win saw Tampines leapfrog Home United to third spot in the table, behind both second-place Warriors FC and league leaders Brunei DPMM. The three clubs are all levelled on 31 points but a superior goal difference has allowed DPMM, who has a game in hand, to remain on top.
The visitors had numerous efforts on goal in the first half but they were let down by poor finishing and denied by the woodwork.
In the opening stages of the match, ex-Singapore international Alam Shah wasted a glorious opportunity to give the Stags the lead as the striker scuffed his shot in the six-yard box.
The hosts were mostly busy with defensive duty for the bulk of the match and ventured forward only during a counter. Nonetheless, Harimau never came near to a goal-scoring opportunity and had to try their luck from distance.
Midway through the first half, Imran Sahib delivered a tantalising ball into the dangerous area but Alam Shah headed the ball wide in the 25th minute.
The reigning league champions were left frustrated again three minutes later when Shahdan Sulaiman was denied a goal by the bar.
But the long-awaited goal finally came five minutes before the interval.
Harimau failed to clear their line from a Tampines’ corner kick and a long ball was played back into the box to Kaplan who took it down well and blasted it past the hapless Ilham Amirullah.
Trailing by a goal, Harimau coach Razip Ismail brought on the lively Ramzi Haziq for Nurshamil Ghani. Within minutes of his introduction, Ramzi went on a mazy run into the final third but could not find the necessary support needed to complete the attack.
Rafi’s charges could have doubled their lead after the hour mark but second half substitute Miljan Mrdakovic headed straight into Ilham’s grasp.
Harimau did not give up as they went in search for the elusive equaliser. But it was not their day as they succumbed to their 14th loss of the campaign and remain rooted to the bottom of the table on six points.