Tampines on a win and a prayer in do-or-die AFC Cup game
|TAMPINES ROVERS||CERES NEGROS|
Their hopes of qualifying for the knockout stage of the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) Cup looked all but over after two heavy defeats in their first two Group G games - a 5-0 thumping by Ceres Negros and a 4-0 loss to Hanoi FC.
However, results in the last few rounds of matches have given Tampines Rovers a glimmer of hope.
Going into the final round of matches tonight, the group is finely poised, with three of four teams still in with a chance to qualify for the knockout stage.
That is why there is no trepidation for the Stags when they face Philippine side Ceres in their final Group G game at Jalan Besar Stadium tonight.
"This group is crazy. After those defeats, we thought we were out. We didn't think we had a chance at all, but now, on the last day (of matches), we are still in it, and we are going all out for a win," said Tampines midfielder Mustafic Fahrudin, referring to the first two losses.
A win may not be enough for the Stags, though.
Lying third in the group on five points, Fahrudin and his team are three points behind joint leaders Ceres and Hanoi.
With only the top team certain of going through, Tampines will need to win and hope that Malaysian side Felda United do them a favour by beating Hanoi in Vietnam.
"We know that we have to depend on Felda for a favour, but we have to just focus on our job and do what we have to do - and we have to win," said Fahrudin.
The Singapore international believes that his team can continue their winning momentum.
"We are on a good run of four consecutive wins," said the 36-year-old, referring to the S.League victories over Geylang International (4-0), the Garena Young Lions and Brunei DPMM (both 1-0) and a 3-1 away win over Felda in the AFC Cup.
"We look more like a team now. We're more compact and we're not conceding silly goals.
"On the other end, Khairul Amri is starting to score (goals)for us - we're ready for this game."
"We have no choice, we have to win. Then we'll wait and see what happens in the other game."