Tampines beaten by Hanoi FC in AFC Cup
Tampines Rovers on the losing end despite playing well for most of the match
|TAMPINES ROVERS||HANOI FC|
|(Yasir Hanapi 68)||(Nguyen Van Quyet 74, Pham Van Thanh 90+2)|
For more than 70 minutes, Tampines Rovers defended resolutely and looked on course to record a morale-boosting AFC Cup win over Hanoi FC despite their fatigue and injury problems.
Juergen Raab's men had stuck to the game plan and struck a classic counter-attacking blow in the 68th minute when the tireless Yasir Hanapi slid in Shakir Hamzah's left-wing cross.
It was a far cry from the humbling 4-0 Group G loss they suffered in Vietnam three weeks ago.
But, at the final whistle, it was the same end result - the Stags were on their knees after another crushing defeat.
They had only themselves to blame for the equaliser when they failed to organise themselves after giving away a free- kick 30 metres out in the 74th minute.
A straight pass was played to Nguyen Van Quyet, who was inexplicably afforded an extravagant amount of time to turn and shoot beyond Izwan Mahbud.
Then in stoppage time, substitute Pham Van Thanh killed off whatever resistance left when he latched on to Hoang Vu Samson's pass and slotted past Izwan, who was hurt in the process, joining skipper Madhu Mohana on the long list of injuries.
"It's really hard to accept this defeat. There's no use saying it was a great performance because we leave empty-handed," said Raab.
"Even with our problems, having played a league match on Saturday while our opponents rested, and with the injuries we have to Khairul Amri, Hafiz Rahim, Imran Sahib and Ismadi Mukhtar before this match, we controlled much of the game and the opponents had no chance before the equaliser.
"It is normal that we did not have the power in the last 20 minutes... but the equaliser was too easy.
"The player was free to take the ball, and that shouldn't happen.
"We take responsibility, but we should also take positives for our upcoming matches because it is important not to lose our heads."
Tampines have now lost six out of their nine games in all competitions this season, and find themselves bottom of Group G with three points from four games, five adrift of Hanoi FC and two behind Felda United and Ceres Negros.
But Raab remains defiant that his side still have a future in the AFC Cup, be it this term or the next.
The 58-year-old German said: "It will be tough to progress, but we can still do it if we win our last two group games and results elsewhere go our way.
"But we must build on performances like what we had for most of the game tonight for the future.
"In the S.League, we must aim for the top two so we can return to this competition next year.
"Then we will have more experience and be more competitive."
- TAMPINES ROVERS: Izwan Mahbud, Madhu Mohana (Irwan Shah 61), Mustafic Fahrudin, Daniel Bennett, Jufri Taha, Ryutaro Megumi, Son Yong Chan, Shahdan Sulaiman, Raspreet Sandhu (Sahil Suhaimi 64), Shakir Hamzah, Yasir Hanapi (Jamil Ali 86)
- HANOI FC: Nguyen Van Cong, Tran Van Kien, Do Duy Manh, Alvaro Silva Linares, Sam Ngoc Duc, Nguyen Van Quyet, Do Hung Dung, Moses Oloya, Nguyen Quang Hai (Loris Arnaud 74), Pham Thanh Luong (Pham Van Thanh 81), Hoang Vu Samson
- TNP Man of the Match: Yasir Hanapi (Tampines Rovers).