Written by: Khalis Rifhan
Tanjong Pagar coach Patrick Vallee was ecstatic his side managed to pull through a difficult game against Harimau Muda at Pasir Gudang Stadium on Monday night.
Despite having two players sent off in the match, Tanjong Pagar managed to hold on to their lead and secure a 2-1 win in the Great Eastern Yeo’s S.League tie
Ruzaini Zainal was shown a straight red by referee Mohd Irwan for a reckless challenge on Irfan Zakaria in the 72nd minute while Nor Azli Yusoff was sent off in injury time for a second bookable offence.
“It’s a part of football and I don’t think it’s an aggressive game. It’s disappointing for us ( the red cards) but I am proud of my team as they fight hard to win the game,” said Vallee.
Although Harimau had the numerical advantage, it did not necessarily translate to an easy game for the team with the Jaguars defending stoutly to hold the Young Tigers at bay.
“We tried our best even though the opponents were playing with less men,” Harimau coach Razip Ismail said, ”But it’s quite difficult because they all come down to defend their goal and it’s hard for us to penetrate and try for goal.”
Although the hosts took the lead in the 23rd minute through Akhir Bahari, defensive lapses led to the Jaguars clawing their way back into the game. Masrezwan Masturi leveled the score on the half hour mark while Harimau defender Azrul Nizam scored an unfortunate own goal.
“I am satisfied with the way we played throughout the match. The way we let in the two goals is from our own mistake and I am disappointed with the result,” expressed Razip.
It was the Jaguars’ first win over the Malaysian developmental squad in five matches. The Jaguars’ two previous encounters in the 2013 season saw Patrick Vallee’s side lose 3-0 in Johor and held to a 1-1 draw at Queenstown Stadium.
“We are happy that we finally win at this stadium. I told them that this is only the first game and even if we lose, the season is not over,” added the Tanjong Pagar coach.
“It’s a good start to the season with the three points. I am confident in my team and I can’t expect anything more from them.”
For Razip, he believed his boys will gain valuable experience from the match and do better in their next match.
“My players are inexperience and sometimes they lose concentration. I hope they will improve as there is no point in taking the lead but you keep making mistakes and end of the day go home empty handed.”