News • July 18, 2016

The New Paper League Cup 2016: Stags Qualify For Semis With A Game To Spare


Written by: Shawn Lim

Tampines Rovers’ unbeaten run continued on Sunday night after defeating Warriors FC 3-0 at Jalan Besar Stadium in the The New Paper League Cup 2016 Group A match to qualify for the semi-finals.

Jordan Webb was given licence to roam in a 4-2-3-1 formation and was a bright spark together with the attacking trio of Prime League players Saifullah Akbar, Gutam Selvamani and Ariyan Malik in front of him, but the Stags were unable to create any meaningful opportunities in the final third for much of the first-half.

However, Warriors custodian Basil Chan had to pick the ball out of the net on the stroke of half-time when the debutant allowed Billy Mehmet’s tame shot from 30-yards out to creep under his legs and into the back of the net.

It was cruel blow to the designated hosts, who thought they had done enough to ensure that they would go into the interval on level terms, but will ultimately feel that they should have put away the limited chances that they craved out in the first period.

Marijan Suto had Warriors’ first sight of goal just five minutes in when he fired a shot from just outside the box, but teammate Hafiz Rahim was unable to get out of the way and directed the ball into the arms of Stags custodian Joey Sim.

Suto came close again on 16 minutes when he got on the end of Shaiful Esah’s free-kick, but was unable to direct his header towards goal.

Warriors emerged after the break looking to start quickly and a moment of magic from Nikola Rak saw the Croatian dribbling his way through a sea of Tampines defenders, but somehow fired wide of the mark from six-yards out with only Sim to beat on 49 minutes.

Having survived that scare, the Stags poured forward in search of the vital second goal and duly found it in the 55th minute when Fabian Kwok arrived late into the 18-yard box to slam Ismadi Mukhtar’s cut-back into the bottom corner after the defender had linked up well with Guam.

The game was well and truly over for Warriors two minutes after the hour mark when Webb was played through on goal and unselfishly squared the ball for Ariyan to finish from close-range.

Having conceded four goals to Hougang United in their opening game, the Stags were determined to keep a clean sheet this time round and Sim had to get down well in the 74th minute to deny substitute Ridhuan Muhamad at close range.

The visitors could have added a fourth goal three minutes later when Mehmet was played through on goal, but the much-improved Chan pulled off a brilliant save with his legs to deny the striker.

Tampines will now meet Brunei DPMM in their final group match and with both teams already through to the next round, it will be a battle for the top spot in the group instead.

Warriors FC caretaker coach Razif Onn: “I don’t think the goalkeeper’s mistake changed the game because the goals we conceded in the second-half was so close to each other again, like against DPMM.

“If we make the same mistakes again, something is very wrong. It is a lapse of concentration in our backline.”

Tampines Rovers coach Akbar Nawas: “It was a good overall performance by the team because the Prime League players really stepped up today and the older players helped them.

“I would rather take 3-0 over 6-4 any day, because the team played smartly and according to the tactical plan today.”

Warriors FC: Basil Chan (GK), Ismail Yunos, Kento Fukuda (C), Shaiful Esah, Hafiz Osman, Syaqir Sulaiman, Andy Ahmad, Fazli Jaffar (Ridhuan Muhamad 70′), Hafiz Rahim, Nikola Rak (Poh Yi Feng 86′), Marijan Suto (Hafsyar Farkhan 77′)

Tampines Rovers: Joey Sim (GK), Ismadi Mukhtar, Jufri Taha, Noh Rahman (C), Irwan Shah, Jordan Webb, Fabian Kwok, Ariyan Malik (Faridzuan Fuad 77′), Gautham Selvamani (Aide Shazwandi 80′), Saifullah Akbar (Nawari Ahmad 90′), Billy Mehmet