News • February 4, 2014
Salim Proud of Stags Fighting Spirit Despite South China Loss
Written by: Khalis Rifhan
Tampines Rovers’ Champions League dream ended following their 2-1 loss to South China AA in the first round play-off at the Jalan Besar Stadium on Sunday night. The match entered extra-time after Miljan Mrdakovic cancelled Andrew Barisic first-half strike with the latter later netting the winner in extra time.
The valiant Tampines side ended the match with nine men after Imran Sahib and Mrdakovic collected two yellow cards each. However, head coach Salim Moin was not about to bring out the sword on his charges but complimented them for their hard work and determination instead.
“Despite the red card, I am proud of my team for their fighting spirit. You can see in the first half, we created more chances than South China. They are already in the season and my team is in pre-season, but they gave a good fight and it is excellent for my team,” declared Salim Moin.
“Sometimes it happened in a spur of a moment. Players get overzealous and in the end they know to control themselves in the game,” commented the ex national player regarding his players sending off.
The margin could have been bigger had it not been for Tampines custodian Hyrulnizam Juma’at who pulled off several top class saves to prevent South China from claiming a straightforward victory.
“We fought very hard as a unit and i think we deserved to go into the next round. We have been together for two months training hard for this game. The effort shows on the pitch and I hope we continue working hard for the next game,” Hyrulnizam expressed after the match.
Although he was delighted with his team progression to the next round South China coach Cheung Po Chun admitted he was frustrated with their inability to put the result beyond Tampines’ reach early in the game.
“It was difficult for us as it’s been a long time since we played in an AFC tournament, but this is a good experience for us. We controlled the game, but the finishing need more improvements,” expressed Cheung who will next face Thailand’s Chonburi FC in the next round on Sunday.
Two-goal hero Barisic echoed Po Chun’s worry as he felt South China should have been more clinical in front of goal.
“We put ourselves under pressure by relaxing bit too early. They obviously did well with ten men and they put us under immense pressure. we kept going and we did not give up. We dominated and had a lot of chances and possession, but obviously we should have put those chances away earlier,” said Barisic who also scored two goals against Tampines a year ago while turning out for East Bengal in the AFC Cup.
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.