Tampines win 6-1, yet coach wants improvement
Stags' coach wants defence to improve after seeing Young Lions waste many chances
TAMPINES ROVERS 6
(Fazrul Nawaz 19, Jordan Webb 25 48 80, Mustafic Fahrudin 40, Jermaine Pennant 78)
GARENA YOUNG LIONS 1
(Fareez Farhan 33)
He insisted that his side would play adventurous football and it looks as if Akbar Nawas, the new coach of Tampines Rovers, has found the right approach.
Akbar, who took over the reins from V. Sundramoorthy - who recently was appointed national coach - saw his team thump the Garena Young Lions 6-1 in their Great Eastern-Yeo's S.League clash at the Jurong West Stadium last night.
A hat-trick by Canadian winger, Jordan Webb, and strikes from skipper Mustafic Fahrudin, Fazrul Nawaz and Jermaine Pennant capped an impressive attacking performance by the Stags that saw them close the gap to league leaders Albirex Niigata to just four points.
Akbar, however, would like to see more from his side, especially in defence.
Speaking after the game, the 41-year-old said: "It was a good scoreline for us today but I was not pleased with the first-half performance. Credit to the players for getting such a huge score but there are still parts of our game that we really need to look at.
"We can definitely improve on our transition, circulation of the ball and be more clinical with our chances.
"Defensively, we can do much better as well. They had a few chances which they missed and I feel that this is something that we can improve on."
While the scoreline suggested a comfortable victory for the Stags, they didn't have it all their own way.
The Young Lions, who were undefeated in three matches, fought gallantly throughout but their hard work and good build-up play was marred by their inability to finish off a host of gilt-edged chances.
And the star-studded Tampines outfit duly punished the national developmental side of mostly under-21 players.
Pennant had an opportunity to open the scoring for the five-time league champions in the 12th minute after the Stags were awarded a penalty when Hafiz Sujad was hacked in the box by Taufiq Muqminin, but the Englishman blazed his spot-kick over the bar.
The hosts did break the deadlock seven minutes later when Fazrul was able to retrieve possession near the byeline, before squeezing his shot home from an acute angle past custodian Benjamin Bertrand.
Webb doubled their advantage in the 25th minute with arguably the best of his three goals after he was teed up by Billy Mehmet, who did well to control a long ball from Yasir Hanapi.
The Young Lions were thrown a lifeline eight minutes later when Fareez Farhan slotted home into an empty net after Tampines custodian Joey Sim parried Khairul Amri's strike into Fareez's path.
But their good work came undone after some poor set-piece defending in the 40th minute which led to Mustafic nodding home an inch-perfect delivery from Pennant to restore the two-goal lead.
The second half resumed in similar fashion with the Young Lions wasting a number of chances before the Stags completed the rout with a double-strike by Webb, while Pennant atoned for his earlier miss by coolly converting Tampines' second penalty of the game after he was brought down by Rusyaidi Salime in the 78th minute.
Young Lions coach Patrick Hesse was understandably disappointed.
"I am not pleased with the performance of the team today. I told them after the first half that they looked like they were playing in a friendly and not in a match where points were at stake," said the 51-year-old Frenchman.
"I think this is the worst game that we have played since the beginning of the season. We played well for the last few games but they did not bring the same level of commitment and concentration to these games and that's why we lost by a big margin today."
● Tampines Rovers: Joey Sim, Jufri Taha, Fahrudin Mustafic, Afiq Yunos, Irwan Shah, Jordan Webb, Yasir Hanapi (Izzdin Shafiq 46), Hafiz Abu Sujad, Jermaine Pennant (Sufian Anuar 83), Fazrul Nawaz (Fabian Kwok 72), Billy Mehmet
● Garena Young Lions: Benjamin Bertrand, Rusyaidi Salime, Amirul Adli, Taufiq Muqminin (Shannon Stephen 65), Zakir Shamsudin, Fareez Farhan, Ammirul Emmran, Muhaimin Suhaimi (Ryan Syaffiq 75), Joshua Pereira, Gareth Low, Khairul Amri (Hazim Faiz 62)
TNP Man of the Match:
● Jordan Webb (Tampines Rovers)
● Home United 1 Balestier khalsa 3