News • March 16, 2016
Tough Filipinos No Pushovers For Stags and Tigers
Written by: Aysha Ridzuan
Tampines Rovers and Balestier Khalsa faced some stiff competition from Philippines sides on Tuesday night in the AFC Cup, as both Great Eastern Yeo’s S.League sides went away with vastly different results.
The Stags eked out a 1-1 draw Ceres La Salle at the Jalan Besar Stadium, while Balestier Khalsa lost 1-0 to Kaya FC at the Rizal Memorial Stadium.
The Stags took the lead in the 69th minute after a goal from Hafiz Sujad, but Adrian Gallardo equalised for Ceres La Salle two minutes from time as both sides shared the spoils, as Tampines remained at the summit of Group E.
The visitors were the better side in the first half, playing a high-pressing game and created plenty of chances, but a lack of composure in front of goal meant that they could not convert them.
Tampines’ only shot on target in the first 45 minutes was when Jermaine Pennant’s dangerous curling free-kick forced Ceres goalkeeper Louie Michael Casas into a save at full stretch.
Ceres could have taken the lead just before the break when Bienvenido Marra On broke through Tampines defence, but shot narrowly wide of the mark.
In the second period, the Stags made a change in their formation, switching to a regular back four. The tactical change seemed to work when they were able to create more chances and put Ceres under pressure.
The hosts finally threatened again in the 67th minute when Afiq Yunos launched a volley from the edge of the box, but Casas was quick to get down and tip the ball away.
The Stags broke the deadlock just minutes later Hafiz Sujad bundled in Jordan Webb’s cross from the right-flank.
However, Ceres were not ready to throw the towel just yet and when forward Adrian Gallardo was left unmarked following a Patrick Reichelt’s knockdown, the Spanish needed no further invitation to stab the ball home.
Meanwhile in Manila, a depleted Balestier, who started without injured key striker Miroslav Kristic, fell to Kaya FC.
The Tigers fought hard and put up a gallant effort in defence, blocking away chances from Jovan Bedic, Kenshiro Daniels, Alfred Osei, and OJ Porteria as the first half ended 0-0.
But three minutes into the second half, Bedic’s strike at goal landed on Antonio Ugarte, who then turned and slot the ball into the bottom corner to give Kaya the lead.
Balestier tried to recover after the goal as they look for an equaliser, challenging Kaya goalkeeper Matthew Acton on some occasions.
They had a golden opportunity to pull level 15 minutes from time when Zulkiffli Hassim fired from inside the area, but saw his shot went wide.
Kaya held strong against a late Balestier onslaught in the end as the Tigers recorded their first defeat of their 2016 AFC Cup campaign and slipped to second place in Group F.