News • October 2, 2016
Wasps Deal A Blow to Stags Title Hopes
Written by: Darren Ho
Tampines Rovers failed to close the gap with Albirex Niigata (S) at the top of the Great Eastern-Yeo’s S.League table after they suffered a 1-0 loss to defending champions Brunei DPMM at the Jurong West Stadium on Saturday night.
Azwan Ali scored the all important goal to seal three points for Steve Kean charges and the win saw the Wasps leapfrogged the Stags to second-spot in the standings with 41 points.
Tampines dropped a spot to third position, a point behind DPMM but with two game in hands compared to the Brunei outfit.
DPMM started the match with an attacking mentality and took the lead just four minutes into the match. Rafael Ramazotti’s low driven ball across goal found Azwan in the penalty box and the latter connected with the ball to send it past the hapless Izwan Mahbud.
Down by a goal early in the match, Tampines restarted the game offensively and they almost came close to an equaliser twice soon after.
First, Jordan Webb’s attempt on goal was well saved by the Wasps’ custodian Wardun Yussoff. Former Liverpool and Arsenal player Jermaine Pennant then tried his luck from distance but his stinging shot flew inches off the target.
With Akbar Nawas’ charges pouring forward in numbers, the visitors deployed most of their players in their own half to defend their lead and were restricted to pumping the ball upfield towards lone striker Ramazotti and relying on the counter-attacks.
Before the half-time interval, DPMM were awarded a freekick in the near the penalty box but Paulo Sergio’s effort were deflected off the Tampines’ wall.
Tampines continue to dominate proceedings after the interval but they were either met with a resolute DPMM defence or were denied by the bar. Yasir Hanapi was left frustrated in the 60th minute as he was denied a goal by the crossbar.
But it was not all Stags as the Wasps went on a counter a minute later. It was a goalmouth scramble but the hosts were fortunate to came away unscathed.
Ramazotti’s effort was fisted away by Izwan but the loose ball fell to Hendra Azam, who took a crack on goal ball. Luckily for Tampines, Afiq Yunos was quick to react and headed the ball away to safety on the goal-line.
Although coach Akbar brought on experienced campaigners Fabian Kwok and Fahrudin Mustafic in the latter stages of the match in the hope of strengthening the midfield and to seek a way back in the match, DPMM held onto their lead to seal maximum points.
Tampines Rovers head coach Akbar Nawas: “We only have got ourselves to blame and we had kicked ourselves in the foot for not converting our chances. We took things lightly, became complacent and made mistakes that we should not think we can get away from.
“In football, we don’t get that luxury all the time and it is unacceptable to pass the ball in the middle and get caught.
“We have trained on how to work on the ball and even from the very first minute of the game, I have asked the players to concentrate and focus right from the start.”
Brunei DPMM head coach Steve Kean: “The team defended really well especially in the end when Tampines had nothing to lose and had thrown everything forward. We showed the desire not to give up and another pleasing aspect was seeing my creative players from the front, coming back to defend, right from the start.
“When we came here, we had some psychological block that we can’t beat Tampines. But I said why not, when we are a good team.
“We know how Tampines was going to play, we know Jermaine Pennant and we know how he was going to have a touch on the ball and I felt our defenders had done really well tonight.
“We’re still going for second, even though we have one game left, and with the form we are in, I am sure we can go on and win our next game.”
Tampines Rovers: Izwan Mahbud (GK)(C), Jufri Taha, Ismadi Mukhtar, Irwan Shah, Yasir Hanapi (Fahrudin Mustafic 89’), Jermaine Pennant, Jordan Webb, Izzdin Shafiq, Hafiz Abu Sujad (Fabian Kwok 72), Afiq Yunos, Sufian Anuar (Saifullah Akbar 66’), Irwan Shah
Brunei DPMM: Wardun Yussof (GK), Reduan Petera, Yura Indera Putera, Brian McLean, Azwan Saleh (C), Azwan Ali (Shahrazen Said 79’), Najib Tarif (Azim Izamuddin 73’), Hendra Azam, Aminuddin Zakwan (Awangku Fakharazzi 60’), Paulo Sergio, Rafael Ramazotti