Minnows Yangon can pack a punch

Tampines winger Jordan Webb has scored four goals in this season's AFC Cup and will be a big threat tonight against Yangon United. ST PHOTO: KEVIN LIM
Tampines winger Jordan Webb has scored four goals in this season's AFC Cup and will be a big threat tonight against Yangon United. ST PHOTO: KEVIN LIM

Stags coach says Myanmar side 'have nothing to lose', warns players to stay cool in AFC Cup

Tampines Rovers could seal passage to the Asean zone semi-finals of the AFC Cup with a win over Yangon United at the Jalan Besar Stadium today, but Stags head coach Kadir Yahaya has warned his charges to be wary of the Myanmar side.

With two matches left, Tampines lead Group F with 10 points, three ahead of Vietnam's Hanoi FC.

Cambodian side Nagaworld and Yangon have three points apiece but the former are third because of a better head-to-head record.

Yangon are all but out of the running for a place in the knock-out stages - they are unlikely to finish as the best second-placed team among the three Asean groups - which makes them a threat, according to Kadir.

At the pre-game media conference at the Copthorne King's Hotel yesterday, the former Singapore international said: "They have nothing to lose, and so the danger we are facing is that they are playing with no objective.

"They can attack at will, and for us it is important to remain calm, keep our shape and composure."

The caution is understandable after Tampines struggled before beating Nagaworld 4-2 through three goals in the dying minutes in their last game on April 17.

UNBRIDLED ATTACK

They have nothing to lose, and so the danger we are facing is that they are playing with no objective. They can attack at will, and for us it is important to remain calm, keep our shape and composure.

KADIR YAHAYA, Tampines head coach, on Yangon's attack.

Kadir said of that match: "We expected their (Nagaworld's) fast counter attacks, and there were some lapses in concentration on our part which resulted in them equalising (to make it 1-1)."

"Credit to the players, they kept fighting and eventually we got the goals and result we wanted."

His experienced stars like Khairul Amri and Daniel Bennett will be key to getting a win against Yangon to lift the team after their poor run of just three draws in their last four Singapore Premier League (SPL) matches.

Kadir believes that squad rotation - essential when competing in the AFC Cup - affects the team's consistency, and pointed to how Home United also suffered domestically during their run to the Asean zone crown last year, and how the Protectors posted stronger results in the SPL after the group stage of the AFC Cup.

Home won just twice in their first seven SPL games last term, but notched 10 wins in their next 17 matches to finish second.

Yangon coach Myo Min Tun is expecting a tough night for his charges, especially without first-choice goalkeeper Kyaw Zin Htet (illness) and Guinean striker Sekou Sylla (suspension).

"Tampines have many good and skilful individual players, like the two wingers (Ryutaro Megumi and Jordan Webb)," noted the 35-year-old, who scored for Myanmar against Singapore in the 2008 AFF Suzuki Cup.

"Tomorrow will be very difficult for us, but we will do our best to challenge and show our level and our team's playing style."


TAMPINES V YANGON

Jalan Besar Stadium. Singtel TV Ch114 & StarHub Ch208, 7.20pm

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 01, 2019, with the headline 'Minnows Yangon can pack a punch'. Print Edition | Subscribe