Football: Race for AFC Cup spot heats up after Tampines lose and Home win

Warriors FC Jonathan Behe makes a run for the ball against Tampines Rovers FC Fahrudin Mustafic and Irfan Najeeb, on Aug 15, 2018.
Warriors FC Jonathan Behe makes a run for the ball against Tampines Rovers FC Fahrudin Mustafic and Irfan Najeeb, on Aug 15, 2018.PHOTO: FAS

SINGAPORE - Two second-half goals helped Warriors FC post a come-from-behind 2-1 win over Tampines Rovers at the Choa Chu Kang Stadium in a heated Singapore Premier League (SPL) encounter on Wednesday (Aug 15).

The result means that with just three games left in the league campaign, Tampines have lost their grip on second place, which comes with a spot in next year's AFC Cup competition. The title has already been won by Albirex Niigata, who wrapped up their third domestic title on the trot last month.

Tampines, two wins from their last seven SPL games, are on 36 points, the same as Home United, who thrashed Geylang International 5-1 last night at the Bedok Stadium. The Stags, however, have a superior goal difference.

The two sides play each other in their final league game at the Our Tampines Hub on Sept 29.

After last night's match, Stags coach Juergen Raab complained about the bad pitch and refereeing decisions that he felt went against his side. But he still backed his players to secure the AFC place.

"It is true, we have made too many unnecessary mistakes in recent matches," said the German.

"In our losses at home against Warriors (3-2) and DPMM (2-0), no one could explain to me what happened out on the pitch. In normal circumstances, we should be clear away in second on the table.

"Now, we have to struggle, but we still have three matches and it is all in our hands, with the game against Home United also at our home ground."

Khairul Amri had given Tampines the lead in the 20th minute after he earned a contentious penalty decision. But the Warriors equalised in the 57th minute via a lucky deflection off Stags defender Mustafic Fahrudin and spun into goal.

And with five minutes left in the game, Warriors striker Jonathan Behe raced behind the Tampines defence to coolly finish for his 16th goal of the season.

Said Warriors coach Mirko Grabovac: "I have to congratulate my players for their fighting spirit, especially in the second half.

"They took the instructions, and tactically, technically and physically played very well. We beat one of the biggest teams in Singapore with many star players."

Elsewhere in the SPL on Wednesday night, Balestier beat Hougang 2-1 and Young Lions drew 1-1 with DPMM.