Sweet Homecoming For Stags
Written by: Nevin Gabriel Khoo
Tampines Rovers leapfrogged Home United into second spot in the Great Eastern-Hyundai S.League after a 2-0 victory over Brunei DPMM at Our Tampines Hub on Friday night.
Playing in front of a 4,676-strong crowd at their new home, strikes from Shakir Hamzah and Shahdan Sulaiman was enough for the Stags to mark their return to the East with a win.
Dominating proceedings in the opening stages of the game, Tampines were kept at bay by a well-marshalled DPMM defence.
The home side fashioned their first chance in the fifth minute but Shakir Hamzah’s shot from the edge of the box failed to trouble Awangku Mu’izzuddin who was in goal for the Wasps.
Tampines would however break the deadlock in the 27th minute.
Receiving the ball on the left flank, Fazrul Nawaz found Shakir with a cheeky backheel in the penalty box and the latter calmly chipped the ball over Mu’izzuddin to give Jurgen Raab’s side a well-deserved lead.
The Stags continued from where they left off in the second-half, as they took control of possession and drove forward in search of that elusive second goal.
They were nearly rewarded when a brilliant cross from Ismadi Mukhtar found Fazrul in the box but the forward could only head past the upright.
Frustrated by the failure to convert the chances created, Raab threw on striker Ivan Dzoni for Madhu Mohana in a tactical switch. The Croatian striker had a chance almost immediately after coming on but blasted the ball over the bar instead.
The Stags continued to threaten and earned a penalty after a foul on substitute Dzoni with seven minutes left.
Up stepped midfielder Shahdan Sulaiman who calmly slotted home the spotkick to seal Tampines' tenth win of the season.
With the result, Tampines are now three points behind league leaders Albirex Niigata (S) who have 34 having played 14 games while DPMM remain in eighth with four points to their name.
Tampines Rovers Head Coach Jurgen Raab: “We had to be very careful. I knew that Brunei try to only play with long balls and counter attack (hoping) that we will make some mistake in the back.”
“It is easier to play (on the new pitch) with even balls especially. It is different from Jurong West and I think we need a little time to adapt because the new granules is not completely even with some parts of the pitch having more and some less but we will get used to this.”
Brunei DPMM Head Coach Steve Kean: “I don’t think it was a penalty but when the defender doesn’t clear the ball then the referee has a decision to make. So it was a mistake from us. I don’t think it was a penalty but I wouldn’t say we were robbed.
“(Daud) Gazale was taken off because he had a groin strain. We moved him from the right to the center to try to save his leg. Then in the first minute he twisted and put in a great ball but he felt it. He is a good import player and showed glimpses in the first half; technically, he can make a little chance for himself out of nothing.”
Tampines Rovers: Izwan Mahbud (GK), Ismadi Mukhtar (Jufri Taha 90’), Fahrudin Mustafic (C), Madhu Mohana (Ivan Dzoni 74’), Son Yong Chan, Shahdan Sulaiman, Ryutaro Megumi, Fazrul Nawaz (Khairul Amri 84’), Shakir Hamzah, Daniel Bennett, Hafiz Sujad
Brunei DPMM: Awangku Mu'izzuddin (GK), Haizul Rani, Hanif Hamir, Azwan Saleh (C), Daud Gazale (Azwan Ali Rahman 55’), Nurikhwan Othman, Najib Tarif (Hendra Azam 59’), Hazwan Hamzah, Adi Said (Maududi Hilmi Kasmi 68’), Vincent Salas, Shahrazen Said