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[AFC Cup] Brave Stags Ended Their Asian Dreams Painfully But Gracefully

Izwan Mahbud ended his first club continental venture
Without any doubt, it was a painful exit from the tournament that saw Tampines Rovers ended their continental campaign in the hands of Bengaluru FC of India after a goal-less affair which allowed the latter to cruise to the AFC Cup semi-final stage on a wafer-thin advantage of an aggregate score of one goal to none.

Nonetheless, the Stags shouldn't be faulted for tried all means to put themselves back on level terms when they signalled their intention right from the start with the series of offenses they launched towards the team from Bangalore who elected to opt for a safety first approach by being the absorber of those raids.

Amrinder Singh (1) raised above all to fist the ball 
Hafiz Abu Sujad (16) tried his luck from a distance
Such conservative tactics seems to serve the Indian side well as the designated home team who were left frustrated on countless of occasions on those chances they failed to convert throughout the game.

When asked after the match if such execution of plan by their opponents was a successful one against his luckless side, Tampines' coach Akbar Nawas felt otherwise.

“Do you think so?” replied Coach Akbar when the question was fielded by a member of the media. “I think they (Bengaluru) were tenacious in closing down our attacks by disrupting our midfield, so I don't think so.”

John Johnson (left) got Irwan Shah (right) covered
However, the former NFA staff coach acknowledged his side's continuing lack of firepower of late, a stark contrast of what it was usually associated to his side at the start of the year.

"We will have to go into deeper analysis, both technically and mentally, to find out the reason why (we couldn't score)," lamented Coach Akbar on those ruined opportunities which he attributed to reasons like the absence of key players like striker Fazrul Nawaz and midfielder Shahdan Sulaiman.

Despite crushing out from the tournament, it is definitely one of the better showings in this second-tier club competition by the five-time S.League champions in recent years who last made it to the quarter-final stage back in 2007 against Al-Faisaly of Jordan.

Johnson (left) tussled with Yasir Hanapi (13) for the ball
That is something the 40-year-old tactician would want to draw some positivities from this run.

“We tried our best and played our hearts out and the players deserved a pat on their back for the efforts shown that I hope this run will extend from here.” added Coach Akbar whose side will resume their league fixtures on 1st of October when they take on defending champions Brunei DPMM at Jurong West.


  1. Pardon my question, but given their resources and investments, shouldn't Tampines be running away with the League already? Wouldn't those clubs that spent less be laughing their heads off?


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