Tampines out of AFC Cup
Tampines implode in first half of an error-strewn performance to finish third in their group
|TAMPINES ROVERS||CERES NEGROS|
|(Yasir Hanapi 26, 60-pen)||(Bienvenido Maranon 6, 23, Fernando Rodriguez 45-pen, Kota Kawase 66)|
They needed a win and a prayer to progress to the knockout stages of the Asian Football Confederation Cup.
But that dream turned into a nightmare for Tampines Rovers last night, as they conceded three goals and lost a player in the first half, in a stormy 4-2 defeat by Philippine side Ceres Negros in their final Group G tie at the Jalan Besar Stadium.
With the loss, the Stags finished third in the four-team group with six points, while group leaders Ceres go through with 11 points.
Tampines coach Juergen Raab was dumbfounded by his team's performance in the first period yesterday.
"I am not sure, maybe I am guilty and said the wrong things during the preparations," said the German after the match.
"I can't understand the number of mistakes my players made... But, I must say that we were not good enough to beat Ceres tonight."
Bienvenido Maranon put the visitors ahead in the sixth minute, when he ghosted in between two Tampines defenders to nod home a cross.
Daniel Bennett had a chance to level the score in the 13th minute, but he skiied his shot from Shahdan Sulaiman's free-kick.
The Stags would go on to rue that miss, as Ceres doubled their lead 10 minutes later.
A backpedalling Fazli Ayob tried to intercept the ball near the centre circle, but released Fernando Rodriguez and Maranon instead.
Rodriguez drew Izwan off his line before squaring the ball for Maranon to tap home.
Yasir Hanapi reduced the deficit just three minutes later, when he drilled in a low shot from outside the box.
But Raab's side were dealt another blow a minute later, when defender Shakir Hamzah was shown a straight red for a tackle on Rodriguez, and was stretchered off.
Things got worse for the S.League side just before half-time, when substitute Ismadi Mukhtar handled the ball in the box.
Rodriguez sent Izwan the wrong way to restore Ceres' two-goal lead.
Yasir gave Tampines hope again in the 60th minute, coolly converting a spot-kick after substitute Khairul Amri was impeded in the penalty box.
But Kota Kawase sealed the win for the Philippine side in the 66th minute, when he nodded home from a corner-kick in a crowded penalty box.
Amri had a late chance to notch a consolation goal, but the Singapore striker headed wide, summing up Tampines' futile efforts last night.
Ceres coach Risto Vidakovic said: "It was not an easy match at all... after the red card, the match looked over, but at 3-2, it looked dangerous for us.
"We were lucky to score (the fourth goal) from the corner, and then we could play a bit easier, with more patience.
"We deserved to go through."