Football: Tampines Rovers lose 1-3 to Mohun Bagan, out of AFC Champions League

Tampines Rovers' coach V Sundramoorthy looks dejected during the match.
Tampines Rovers' coach V Sundramoorthy looks dejected during the match.PHOTO: TWITTER

SINGAPORE - The new era at Tampines Rovers got off to an inauspicious start as they were knocked out in the elite Asian Football Confederation (AFC) Champions League's first qualifying round.

In what was their first competitive fixture of the season, the Stags lost 1-3 to India's Mohun Bagan, the I-League's reigning champions. Mohun are three games into the new I-League season. The defeat means Tampines will now play in the second-tier AFC Cup.

Stags coach V Sundramoorthy was missing star attacker Jermaine Pennant - who was not registered in time - at the Salt Lake Stadium in Kolkata.

Alas, it was his defence which let him down.

The home side opened the scoring after just five minutes, striker Jeje Lalpekhlua getting ahead of Tampines defender Afiq Yunos to flick the ball home.

The Mariners then won a penalty after a clumsy challenge from South Korean defender Kwon Jun, but goalkeeper Izwan Mahbud dived to his right to save from Cornell Glen, who leads the I-League's scoring with four goals in three games.

Glen was not be denied in the 41st minute. The Trinidad and Tobago striker was left completely unmarked in the six-yard box and bundled home a Sonny Norde cutback as the Tampines backline went to sleep.

Midfielder Yasir Hanapi sparked hopes of a comeback, pulling one back for Tampines two minutes later as he powered home a header from a Hafiz Abu Sujad free-kick.

Tampines poured forward in search of an equaliser in the second-half, as Sundram brought on forward Jordan Webb for midfielder Izzdin Shafiq at the break.

Fazrul Nawaz thought he had equalised when he headed home a deep free-kick from Christopher van Huizen. The goal was ruled out for offside, although replays showed otherwise.

Striker Sufian Anuar was brought on in the 73rd minute, replacing van Huizen, as Sundram went for the jugular.

With 10 minutes left, Yasir missed the best chance to level the scores when he blazed over with only the goalkeeper to beat.

That miss proved costly as Mohun's Japanese midfielder Katsumi Yusa dealt the final blow three minutes later, poking home from close range after a well-worked corner routine.