Sundram warns free-scoring Stags against complacency
Sundram's side show off attacking might again
TAMPINES ROVERS 4
(Shahdan Sulaiman 8, Ismadi Mukhtar 11, Mustafic Fahrudin 19, Fazrul Nawaz 84)
HOUGANG UNITED 1
(Stipe Plazibat 26)
You've been hit by, you've been struck by, Sundram's smooth individuals.
Maybe, Tampines Rovers fans should be ready to sing Michael Jackson's classic Smooth Criminal every match, with a little tweak, of course.
Last night at the Jurong West Stadium, Hougang United didn't know what hit them as Tampines Rovers stormed to a 3-0 lead within the first 20 minutes of their Great Eastern-Yeo's S.League encounter.
The S.League title favourites went on to win the match 4-1 in front of 2,106 fans.
It was the third game in a row the Stags had blitzed their opponents in the first half.
In their opening league encounter against Geylang International earlier this month, they scored twice in 34 minutes.
And in their 4-0 AFC Cup win over Bangladeshi side Sheik Jamal Dhanmondi on Tuesday, they opened the scoring after just 66 seconds and added another before half-time.
Stags coach V Sundramoorthy bristled slightly when asked about his side conceding a goal after going three goals up, but stayed calm.
"When you go 3-0 up, you get complacent," said the 51-year-old.
"You try to push for more goals and then bad habits come in.
"Players don't get back to position, take things for granted, until they (opponents) put in one goal.
"Then we woke up. In the second half, we got things organised. I don't think they were dangerous, they had maybe two or three shots from 30 metres. That's about it."
A frenetic start to the match saw both teams having efforts at goal, but Shahdan Sulaiman broke the deadlock for the Stags on eight minutes, after firing the ball home from the edge of the box, finishing a move he had started with a fine pass to teammate Jordan Webb.
Hougang barely had time to catch their breath when fullback Ismadi Mukhtar lashed home a second for the home side three minutes later, with a shot that crashed in off the underside of the crossbar.
And eight minutes later, the game was all but over when Mustafic Fahrudin got the slightest of touches to Jermaine Pennant's vicious free-kick to divert the ball past Hougang goalkeeper Khairulhin Khalid.
Stipe Plazibat pulled one back for the Cheetahs in the 26th minute with a cool finish, but by then the Croat must have been cursing his finishing.
He had two earlier opportunities - a point-blank header saved by Izwan Mahbud and a close-range shot blocked by Ismadi - which went begging.
National striker Fazrul Nawaz sealed the win for Tampines six minutes before the end with a fine finish, after being played through by Webb.
Sundram, who famously led the LionsXII to the Malaysian Super League title in 2013 on the back of being tactically disciplined and defensively sound, said he was merely playing to the strengths of his sides.
"In football, attacking teams always have a higher chance of conceding than those who sit back," he said.
"You look at Arsenal, Barca... It's always 5-2, 4-2.
"We have many attacking players, so we need to attack.
"When I was with the LionsXII, I had good defensive players, so we sat back and defended. They're two different teams."
Hougang coach K Balagumaran still looked shellshocked after the game.
He felt one reason his side failed to settle early was that they arrived at the stadium later than planned, partly due to traffic conditions.
But he added: "I think this is a one-off thing.
"I like the attitude of the players.
"When everybody walked off the field, Anu(manthan) was saying: 'Don't worry, coach, we are still there, we will fight back'."
- TNP MAN OF THE MATCH: Ismadi Mukhtar (Tampines Rovers)
TAMPINES: Izwan Mahbud, Ismadi Mukhtar, Mustafic Fahrudin, Shakir Hamzah, Irwan Shah, Jermaine Pennant (Hafiz Abu Sujad 85), Shahdan Sulaiman, Izzdin Shafiq, Jordan Webb, Billy Mehmet, Fazrul Nawaz
- HOUGANG: Khairulhin Khalid, Yusiskandar Yusop (Nur Naiim Ishak 83), Delwinder Singh, Wahyudi Wahid, Ali Hudzaifi, Nazrul Ahmad Nazari (Nur Ridho Jafri 74), Raihan Rahman, M Anumanthan, Huzaifah Aziz (Fumiya Kogure 54), Stipe Plazibat, Jozef Kaplan
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