Ilso stars for Home in win over Tampines
Two days after superb win over Selangor, Stags lose as fatigue strikes
TAMPINES ROVERS 1
(Fazrul Nawaz 22)
HOME UNITED 2
(Azhar Sairudin 23, Ken Ilso 70)
Two days, life changes.
Adding an expletive to his quip, Tampines Rovers V Sundramoorthy drew much laughter after his candid response following his team's 2-1 defeat by Home United in front of 2,099 fans last night at Jalan Besar Stadium.
The 50-year-old had been on a high after leading his team into the AFC Cup Round of 16 by beating Malaysian giants Selangor 1-0 at the National Stadium on Tuesday.
Forty-eight hours later, word had got out that the Football Association of Singapore was set to offer him a contract to become national coach.
Then came the defeat by an in-form Home which left Tampines five points adrift of Great Eastern-Yeo's S.League leaders Albirex Niigata with 13 games to go.
Speaking to The New Paper last night, Sundram said: "The decision (on the national coach) has not been made by the Football Association of Singapore yet, but obviously I want to put Tampines in as strong a position as possible, so the result is a disappointing one.
"As of now, I am Tampines coach and I will do my best for the club.
"I am concerned (about losing touch with Albirex), and playing too many games. We are being squeezed and it's going to be tough.
"We have to recover and bounce back. If the players are fresh, we should be okay."
The Stags started brightly against Home, taking the lead in the 22nd-minute when Fazrul Nawaz latched on to Ismadi Muktar's long ball and lobbed over the onrushing Hyrulnizam Juma'at to end a seven-match goal drought.
The lead lasted all of one minute when Azhar Sairudin headed in a right-wing cross by the indefatigable right back Juma'at Jantan for the equaliser.
It was an end-to-end contest, although there were few clear scoring chances.
Home's attacking verve led by Ken Ilso, Faris Ramli and Azhar was always a threat on the counter and some last-ditch tackling by Tampines players kept them in the game.
The winning goal arrived in the 70th minute.
Playing their 10th game in 41 days, Tampines were on the back foot as Song Ui Young played a delightful through-ball for Ilso to confidently finish past Izwan Mahbud.
Said Sundram: "We did well to get the lead, but then went to sleep straight after that.
"If we had defended better, picked up players in the box when the cross came in, we could have led at the break and the story would have been different in the second half.
"We kept the ball well, but didn't create enough chances."
Home, on the other hand, kept up their winning momentum with a fifth victory in their last seven games as they rose to third in the standings.
Coach Philippe Aw said: "It was a battling display to come back and win. We defended well and Hyrulnizam did not have a save to make.
"Someone told me we had not won three in a row since 2014 and I'm glad we broke that.
"We want to keep winning, but equally important is entertaining the fans so that they will return for more."
- TAMPINES ROVERS: Izwan Mahbud, Noh Rahman, Mustafic Fahrudin, Shakir Hamzah, Irwan Shah, Ismadi Mukhtar (Jordan Webb 72), Izzdin Shafiq, Yasir Hanapi (Jermaine Pennant 46), Hafiz Abu Sujad (Sufian Anuar 83), Billy Mehmet, Fazrul Nawaz
- HOME UNITED: Hyrulnizam Juma'at, Juma'at Jantan, Abdil Qaiyyim, Shahrin Saberin, Sirina Camara, Shamil Sharif (Redzwan Atan 82), Song Ui Young, Aqhari Abdullah (Syahiran Miswan 72), Azhar Sairudin, Faris Ramli, Ken Ilso.
- TNP Man of the Match: Juma'at Jantan (Home United)