Tampines mean business in Singapore Cup
S.League giants favourites to advance to last four after slick performance
QUARTER-FINAL, 1ST LEG
TAMPINES ROVERS 3
(Billy Mehmet 13, Fazrul Nawaz 61, Hafiz Abu Sujad 68)
GLOBAL FC 1
(Misagh Bahadoran 44)
Since the mid-season break, Tampines Rovers have been in dominant form and, after last night, they appear to be marching on to the semi-finals of the RHB Singapore Cup.
An impressive 3-1 win over Philippine outfit Global FC in their quarter-final, first leg clash at Jurong West Stadium - their fifth straight victory in all competitions since Akbar Nawas took over the coaching reins from V Sundramoorthy - was enough to hand the Stags a comfortable lead ahead of Saturday's return encounter at the Jalan Besar Stadium.
The result should be enough to see them through to the last four, although Akbar was keen to stress that the tie is far from over.
"We're in a good position, being two goals up, but there are another 90 minutes and anything can happen," said Akbar.
"Global are a good team and I'm expecting another tough battle on Saturday.
"I'm happy with the performance and, credit to the players, who showed more composure in the second half, but we'll have to make sure complacency doesn't creep in."
Still battling for silverware on four fronts, Tampines showed how serious they are about winning the Singapore Cup by naming the same starting 11 that beat Great Eastern Yeo's S.League leaders Albirex Niigata last time out.
They got off to a perfect start after 13 minutes when Jermaine Pennant, breaking free with pace in the middle of the park, played an eye-catching pass to find Hafiz Abu Sujad.
In turn, Hafiz picked out Billy Mehmet, who slotted home expertly.
But Global, two-time semi-finalists in the competition, have never been pushovers and duly pulled level a minute before the break, when captain Misagh Bahadoran skipped past goalkeeper Joey Sim to score.
To their credit, the Stags refused to be deterred and looked the likelier of the two teams to strike next.
They reclaimed the lead in the 61st minute when the in-form Fazrul Nawaz notched his sixth goal in his last five outings, latching on to a lofted pass and spinning free inside the box before rifling his shot past Patrick Deyto.
Seven minutes later, the win was secured as the hosts scored their third through a fine team move.
Irwan Shah broke free down the left after good hold-up play by Jordan Webb and played a perfectly-weighted cut-back to Hafiz, who made no mistake in smashing his shot into the top corner.
Global have it all to do if they are to repeat their last-four feats from 2013 and 2015, although coach Leigh Manson is refusing to throw in the towel, yet.
The Scot said: "It was a poor performance and it's frustrating because the problem was the amount of unforced errors we made.
"It's the first time we've lost in 2016, so now it'll be good to see what kind of reaction we can produce on Saturday.
"The tie certainly isn't dead and, if we can score first, then it'll be wide open, but we'll need to have a better performance than tonight."
- TAMPINES ROVERS: Joey Sim, Jufri Taha, Mustafic Fahrudin, Shakir Hamzah, Irwan Shah, Jordan Webb, Jermaine Pennant (Sufian Anuar 84), Izzdin Shafiq, Hafiz Abu Sujad (Christopher van Huizen 82), Billy Mehmet (Yasir Hanapi 75), Fazrul Nawaz.
- GLOBAL FC: Patrick Deyto, Charles Pettys, Amani Aguinaldo, Milan Nikolic, Marco Casambre (Jerry Barbaso 46), Dennis Villanueva (Mario Clarino 39), Matthew Hartmann, Serge Kaole, Omid Nazari, Hikaru Minegishi, Misagh Bahadoran (Paolo Bugas 74).
- TNP MAN OF THE MATCH: Hafiz Abu Sujad (Tampines Rovers)