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ACL Playoff: Tampines tumbled out of the Asian elite on a bruised note

Tampines will now play in AFC Cup instead
Should the verdict on Tampines Rovers for this season based on what you guys saw in their last evening's Asian Champions League (ACL) playoff against South China AA of Hong Kong?

Some quarters may argue that the Caroliners are having the advantage over the hosting Stags, for they are in the midst of their domestic season and just claimed their 31st Senior Shield win weeks earlier and therefore being the much conditioned and prepared side of the two.

Whereas, Tampines Rovers are still in their pre-season preparation for the upcoming S.League season and playing their first competitive match of the year.

Imran Sahib (no 11) received his marching order for 2nd yellow
Although, some may opt for a more telescopic opinion on their assessment on the Stags for having a bulk of the team not being a greenhorn at the continental level, and would have more or less expecting what are in store for them with things aren't exactly at their favour with their less-than-perfect preparation which only accounted two wins out of the five friendlies played prior to this match.

Given such an unbalanced landscape it was not a much a surprise to see the Hong Kong powerhouses exorcised their 2008 ghost in the same stadium where they were thrashed 4-0 by Home United in that season's AFC Cup campaign with a 2-1 win over the reigning S.League champions.

Andrew Barisić (with ball) destroyed Stags again
Clear for safety in the box 
The match itself, though, was not without any flair of fury with stakes were high on both sides representing their respective league in this elite club tournament in Asian football with the winners will progress to the next qualifying stages of the playoff series with a ticket to the prestigious group stages that only SAFFC achieved that feat in 2009 and 2010 for Singapore football.

However, much of Asia have been progressing in the recent years with the Singapore clubs heading for a slide that saw Tampines Rovers not making it to the knockout stages of the second tier AFC Cup in the last two years of their participation (in 2012 and 2013).

Alek Duric found in tough going in a tussle
Tempers flared up occasionally 
Adding salt to their wound in this defeat, not only was the same tormentor in the name of Andrew Barisić who scored twice (in the 20th and 113th minute) in the game for the visiting side like he did last year for his former club East Bengal on the same ground against the Stags in an AFC Cup group match, the hosting also found themselves down to nine men with the sending off of Imran Sahib and Miljan Mrdakovic in the forgettable night.

In spite of that, Tampines coach Salim Moin continued to brace the media with a positive front after the game that went into extra time with Mrdakovic's 64th minute equalizer.

"Basically, I'm proud of my team with the fighting spirit they have shown," said the former national midfider in addressing the press.

He added:"I think we created more chances in the first half, which both sides did and I felt we were having the upper hand in the first forty-five (minutes)."

"And I am proud of the performance tonight, given that South China are already in their season, whereas my team are still in their pre-season, but we will train hard, as there's no holiday for the team when we need to correct some of the things and you will see a different team in the Charity Shield."

Coach Salim with 'keeper Hyrulnizam Juma'at 
Meanwhile, South China's coach Andy Cheung Po Chun is elated that his team had pulled it through to the next stages of the playoff series.

"It was very difficult for us, as we have not play in any AFC tournament for a long time," said the 43-year-old former police officer.

"It has been a good experience for the team and the players had shown they never gave up easily, however I think it would be difficult in the next games." he added.



  1. May not necessary have the best view all the time from my perspective when taking shots from the side and would be glad on feedback on the match played.

    On the side, I thought the handball by Mrdakovic, that went punished, should warrant a fine from the club for that unsporting conduct.


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