Shock defeat for Tampines
Tampines' title hopes slipping away after shock loss to Home
HOME UNITED 1
(Shamil Sharif 74)
TAMPINES ROVERS 0
The stage was set for them to narrow the gap on Great Eastern-Yeo's S.League leaders Albirex Niigata to one point.
In the end, Tampines Rovers were left licking their wounds after they suffered a shock 1-0 loss to Home United at Bishan Stadium yesterday.
Shamil Sharif's 74th-minute strike stunned the Stags, who are now four points adrift of Albirex having played a game more.
Adding to Tampines coach Akbar Nawas' woes is the fact that he now has to pick his charges up in time for Wednesday's AFC Cup quarter-final, first-leg away match against Indian outfit Bengaluru.
"We definitely feel we deserved at least a draw and to not convert the number of chances we created, especially in the second half, is a bit disappointing," said Akbar.
"It was probably a game we could have done without before our AFC Cup match.
"Now we just have to hope every team who play Albirex do us a favour.
"If every team can turn up and play against us putting in 120 per cent, then I hope they step up and do the same against Albirex, too."
Although they entered yesterday's clash as slight favourites, it certainly was not the most straightforward of matches for Tampines. They were missing the injured Fazrul Nawaz and suspended Billy Mehmet, with Akbar opting to deploy centre back Mustafic Fahrudin as a makeshift striker.
Both sides had their fair share of chances in the first half, although it was Stags midfielder Izzdin Shafiq who came closest with a ferocious drive that forced Eko Pradana into a finger-tip save.
Home then came close in the 58th minute when Khairul Nizam sent a glancing header off the post before the woodwork also denied the visitors five minutes later, when Jordan Webb's powerful effort hit the underside of the bar before bouncing back out.
But, with 16 minutes remaining, the deadlock was finally broken following a scintillating foray from the Protectors.
Breaking free inside the box, Ken Ilso laid the ball back into the path of Song Ui Young and, although his initial effort was brilliantly blocked by Jufri Taha, Shamil was on hand to lash home the loose ball.
Tampines did come excruciatingly close to salvaging a share of the spoils right at the end with Jermaine Pennant curling a sublime free-kick off the post, before Hafiz Abu Sujad was unable to keep his a volley down on the edge of the box deep into injury time.
"To be honest, I think we were very lucky," conceded Home coach Aidil Sharin, whose team moved up to fourth on goal difference on 28 points, four behind third-placed Brunei DPMM.
"We knew it would be a very tough game as Tampines are a good team, so this is a good result for us.
"Now, our aim is to climb up the table and challenge Brunei DPMM for third spot.
"Of course, we were helped by the fact that Tampines were without Fazrul and Mehmet, but take nothing away from the effort by our boys."
- HOME UNITED: Eko Pradana, Shahrin Saberin (Redzwan Atan 53), Haziq Azman, Sirina Camara, Juma'at Jantan, Song Ui Young, Zulfahmi Arifin (Syahiran Miswan 79), Azhar Sairudin, Shamil Sharif, Ken Ilso, Khairul Nizam (Faris Ramli 65).
- TAMPINES ROVERS: Izwan Mahbud, Ismadi Mukhtar, Jufri Taha, Shakir Hamzah, Irwan Shah, Yasir Hanapi (Afiq Yunos 70), Izzdin Shafiq, Jermaine Pennant, Hafiz Abu Sujad, Mustafic Fahrudin (Sufian Anuar 62), Jordan Webb.
- TNP MAN OF THE MATCH: Shamil Sharif (Home United)