Tampines out of TNP League Cup after loss
Warriors send Sundram's side crashing out of tournament
WARRIORS FC 1
(Nicolas Velez 37)
TAMPINES ROVERS 0
They needed five goals, but ended the match with none.
Tampines Rovers were dumped out of The New Paper League Cup, after losing 1-0 to Warriors FC in their Group B match at the Woodlands Stadium last night.
Reigning S.League champions Warriors were already out of the reckoning for a spot in the semi-finals, following a heavy 4-0 defeat by Balestier Khalsa, who progressed to the last four after last night's result.
But Alex Weaver's men were more than happy to play party poopers against Tampines who are challenging them for this year's S.League crown.
Argentinian striker Nicolas Velez struck the vital goal in the 37th minute with a tidy low finish beyond the reach of Stags goalkeeper Rodrigo Pacheco.
When asked he had reason to smile despite being knocked out of the Cup, Warriors coach Weaver said: "Absolutely. It's very pleasing to beat a very good team like Tampines, who probably have the biggest, strongest squad in Singapore.
"But we have quality ourselves and made the most out of it."
Tampines, coached by V Sundramoorthy, started the game brightly and carved out plenty of opportunities in the opening half an hour.
The best was in the 17th minute when Rodrigo Tosi hit the crossbar with a delicate lob over Warriors goalkeeper Daniel Ong, and Jamil Ali failed to convert the rebound into an open goal as two defenders threw their bodies in front of him.
Tampines' early spell of dominance ended when Velez put the finishing touches on a good team move eight minutes before the break.
As the minutes ticked away, it looked increasingly unlikely that Tampines would find the goals they needed and tempers began to flare.
First, both sets of players clashed when Tampines winger Zulfadli Zainal Abidin took a bump to the head as he challenged for a header with Emmeric Ong.
With five minutes to go, Sundram and his opposite number Weaver exchanged heated words after the former Singapore striker accused the Englishman of time-wasting over a substitution.
Weaver brushed aside the accusation, claiming he pulled out of making the planned substitution as he had found out another one of his players was injured.
He said: "They (Tampines) seemed mad about it. He (Sundram) was just being a little bit silly on the side."
Sundram, too, tried to brush aside the incident.
"I wanted to make the TNP League Cup lively lah," he joked afterwards.
"But seriously, it's part of the game. We all just have to move on."
The Dazzler, as he was known in his playing days, took encouragement from his side's display. We attack 10 times, no goal, they attack twice, they score," he said.
"That's been the story of our season. But I'm proud of my boys.
"They fought till the 95th minute today, and if we had scored two or three in the first half an hour, things would have been different.
"Now we have Isa (Halim, former LionsXII captain) and Noh Alam Shah back (from injury) we have a squad ready to fight.
"With a bit of luck, I think we can string some wins together in the league."
- WARRIORS: Daniel Ong, Emmeric Ong, Daniel Bennett, Marin Vidosevic, Irwan Shah, Syaqir Sulaiman, Miroslav Pejic (Hafsyar Farkhan 90), Hafiz Rahim (Shi Jiayi 75), Karlo Ivancic (Hazim Faiz 87), Fazrul Nawaz, Nicolas Velez
- TAMPINES: Rodrigo Pacheco, Ismadi Mukhtar, Mustafic Fahrudin (Ismail Yunos 36), Pedrag Pocuca, Shaiful Esah, Jamil Ali (Noh Alam Shah 55), Isa Halim, Aqhari Abdullah (Roberto Alviz 62), Zulfadli Zainal Abidin, Mateo Roskam, Rodrigo Tosi.