For The Record...
"In an interview with Yahoo! Singapore, Zainudin (Nordin, FAS President) reiterated that the S-league will not become a "poorer cousin" once the LionsXII start their Malaysia Cup campaign."

Thursday, February 27, 2014

[AFC Cup] Clueless Stags ripped apart by the impressive Blue Wave from Hong Kong

Duric (left):"What's wrong with us?"
Tampines Rovers got off from a worst possible start with this 5-0 thrashing to Kitchee SC of Hong Kong in their AFC Cup opener at the Jalan Besar Stadium.

The reigning S.League champions found themselves featuring in the second-tier Asian club tournament following their exit from the elite Asian Champions League (ACL) where they lost to another Hong Kong side, South China AA in the playoff weeks ago.

However, it does not mean the Stags have it easy either in this tournament, which used to be a breeze for them in the group stages in the past.

Impressive Jordi (18) tormented Stags
In fact, the ripping apart from the Blue Wave on the team laden with experience on the continent front would suggest the widening of the gap between the two former British colonies in footballing terms.

The dominating of possession right from the start enabled Kitchee to dictate the rhythm of the game with their usual style of swift passing on and off the ball the crowds had witnessed in recent years left behind by their former coach Josep Gombau that left the hosts barely able to touch the ball, letting alone on making any foray into the Hong Kongers' territory.

Ang Zhiwei (right) debuts on Asian level
Despite that domination, the visitors only took the lead in the 40th minute through their Spaniard import Jordi before added on to his tally before the end of the first half to make it 2-0 and that signalled the opening of the floodgates in the 47th minute with a strike from midfielder Chan Man Fai.

Substitute Xu Deshuai made it 4-0 in the 56th minute before the Hong Kong FA Cup holders answered the call from their small band of travelling supporters to hammer the fifth nail onto the coffin by another Spanish import Juan Carlos Belencoso who benefited from a defensive blunder at the Stags' box in the 90th minute.

Stags strikeforce lacking support upfront
When asked about his thoughts on having led a Singapore club side to their heaviest defeat since the start of the tournament, Tampines coach Salim Moin felt that it was a learning experience for him.

Said the former Woodlands Wellington coach:"It's a baptist of fire for me and an eye-opener for me which I hope not just myself, but also the players can learn from this game,"

"We have lost to a better team today and I hope the team will get back to their momentum soon that we will see the difference after four, five matches."

Jamil Ali making forays to Kitchee's box
Citing the conditioning of both teams could also be one factor for the lopsided scored is another reason Coach Salim offered in his post-match assessment with the media.

"It's a factor that when you have one team already into half of their season, whereas we are at the beginning of ours thus it still takes time to get settled down." suggested the former national midfielder.

It used to be the other way
Meanwhile, Kitchee's coach Alex Chu opined that he was not surprised with the result during his post-match media briefing.

"I am not surprised with the result, as we saw Tampines Rovers played against South China (in ACL playoff) recently that we were able to analysis the way they played, I also felt that our possessing of the ball was very good in keeping 60 to 75% of the ball and that's why we won the game." said the former defender.

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