AFC CUP GROUP G
Tampines Rovers 2
Felda United 1
New signings Khairul Amri and South Korean import Son Yong Chan helped Tampines Rovers to a 2-1 victory over Malaysian side Felda United in their Asian Football Confederation (AFC) Cup opening group match yesterday.
After a lacklustre first half at the Jalan Besar Stadium, the Stags broke the deadlock in the 64th minute when Raspreet Sandhu's cross from the left flank found Son's stooping header past Felda's goalkeeper Farizal Harun.
Veteran Amri, who is in his third playing spell with Tampines, came off the bench in the 71st minute and made his key contribution 12 minutes later.
The 31-year-old striker reacted first and tapped the ball home from point-blank range following fine work by the Stags on the right flank in the 83rd minute.
The visitors pulled a goal back in the 87th minute when Fazrul Hazli looped the ball into the net from 30 metres out.
Still, the hosts saw out the win which ensured that the Jurgen Raab era at Tampines got off to a positive start. The 58-year-old German coach, who signed a three-year contract with the Stags on Feb 1, was not on the sidelines because he was unwell, according to Tampines assistant coach Herman Zailani.
It was a good tactical move.
HERMAN ZAILANI, Tampines assistant coach, on bringing veteran striker Khairul Amri off the bench.
Nonetheless, Raab, a former Garena Young Lions coach, would have been pleased to know his tough pre-season work with the team is producing immediate results.
Herman said at the post-match press conference: "Amri's impact was immediate. It was a good tactical move (to send him on).
"It's important that we start the season well. This win is a good morale booster for the team and overall, this is something we have to build upon."
Son, 25, added: "It's my first official match in Singapore and I'm happy to be here."
The win gave the Stags a lift ahead of their first match of the new S-League season this Sunday against defending champions Albirex Niigata at the National Stadium.
Their next AFC Cup match is against Filipino side Ceres Negros on March 7.
Son said that facing his former club, where he spent three years (2014-2016), will give him greater motivation to beat them.
He said: "I really want to beat them and show that I'm doing well in Singapore and that Singapore football is better."
In the night's other Group G match, Vietnamese side Hanoi drew 1-1 with Ceres.