Boost for Razif on coaching debut
Warriors' stand-in tactician guides team to draw against favourites Tampines
WARRIORS FC 0
TAMPINES ROVERS 0
He had only two days to pick up a team still reeling from last week's 3-1 defeat by bottom-ranked Garena Young Lions and the departure of head coach Jorg Steinebrunner.
But Warriors' interim coach Razif Onn showed that was all the time he needed as his side fought out a 0-0 draw against league favourites Tampines Rovers at the Choa Chu Kang Stadium yesterday.
While the Stags were the better side with more chances, the hosts were resolute in defence, epitomised by goalkeeper Yazid Yasin who returned with a solid display following a two-game suspension.
Razif was pleased with the result, especially with the little preparation time his boys have had.
"When we draw with a team like Albirex Niigata or Tampines, a draw is always good start; there are no other words to describe this," he said.
"Once I get more time to implement my structure, the team can play better football when everybody knows what to do."
It was the Warriors who threatened first when frontman Jonathan Behe charged down Stags goalkeeper Izwan Mahbud's clearance seven minutes in, only to see the ball deflect wide.
Then, Hafiz Sulaiman's diagonal ball over the top released Hafiz Nor, whose rasping shot had Izwan at full stretch.
It was the visitors' turn to threaten three minutes later, when Jermaine Pennant's free-kick forced Yazid into a good save. The best chance of the half fell to Tampines 10 minutes before the break.
Ismadi Mukhtar's inviting cross from the right found an unmarked Fazrul Nawaz in the box, but the national striker could only head his effort over.
The Stags' frustration with their inability to find a breakthrough was summed up when Pennant was cautioned for hitting out at Warriors captain Zulfadli Zainal after a heavy tackle.
In the second half, the visitors picked up from where they left off, with Yazid saving superbly from AFC Cup goal-scoring hero Yasir Hanapi after good work from Fazrul in the box.
By then, Tampines were furiously knocking on the door, with Yazid again parrying away strikes from Billy Mehmet and Pennant.
Stags winger Hafiz Abu Sujad should have wrapped up the game nine minutes from time when he found himself one-on-one with the veteran goalkeeper, but his effort trickled agonisingly wide.
And Behe could have snatched a win at the death, but his strike was denied by a fine Afiq Yunos tackle from five metres out.
NEED TO BE CLINICAL
Tampines coach V Sundramoorthy dismissed suggestions that his side should have capitalised on the Warriors' change in management.
"Whoever the coach is, we can't win the game if we don't score. It's disappointing because we created enough, but the ball refused to go in," he said.
"But, I'm not concerned because we will bury those chances on our day and we should focus on what's next in the league."
Sundram refused to pin his side's wasteful performance on their exertions in last week's 1-0 AFC Cup win over Selangor and his impending appointment as national coach.
"Hafiz had a clear one-on-one; if he had scored it could have been the difference. Jordan (Webb) was also in a good position to cross the ball," he said.
"The boys need to be reminded to stay focused when the game is very tight; their decision-making can cause us the match."
- TNP MAN OF THE MATCH: Yazid Yasin (Warriors)
- WARRIORS: Yazid Yasin, Ismail Yunos (Emmeric Ong 74), Hafiz Osman, Kento Fukuda, Zulfadli Zainal, Hafiz Nor, Syaqir Sulaiman (Ridhuan Muhammad 85), Hafiz Sulaiman (Hafiz Rahim 67), Fazli Jaffar, Nikola Rak, Jonathan Behe.
- TAMPINES ROVERS: Izwan Mahbud, Ismadi Mukhtar, Mustafic Fahrudin, Afiq Yunos, Shakir Hamzah, Jermaine Pennant, Yasir Hanapi, Izzdin Shafiq, Hafiz Abu Sujad (Christopher van Huizen 90), Fazrul Nawaz (Jordan Webb 72), Billy Mehmet.
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