SINGAPORE PREMIER LEAGUE
Tampines Rovers 4
Lion City Sailors 0
Lion City Sailors coach Aurelio Vidmar has hit out at his players after their second-half meltdown against Tampines Rovers in the Singapore Premier League (SPL) yesterday.
In an early-season clash of SPL title contenders at Our Tampines Hub last night, Vidmar had no explanation for the "rubbish" performance.
After a goal-less first half, the Sailors capitulated once Tampines striker Boris Kopitovic broke the deadlock. The 24-year-old slotted Jordan Webb's centre in between Hassan Sunny's legs on the hour mark.
Ten minutes later, Zehrudin Mehmedovic scored a delightful left-footer from the edge of the area that went in off both posts.
As the Sailors pushed for a way back, Webb finished them off in the 79th minute as he finished Irwan Shah's pass from the right. Shah Shahiran completed the rout three minutes later.
Vidmar said: "It was quite even for the first 30 minutes, but Tampines controlled the game from the last part of the first half, and we were not even on the field for the second half. They gave us a good lesson. If we had taken the lead, the game might have turned out differently... What was most disappointing was the lack of fight, which was unacceptable. I'm not sure why that happened, we have to go back and reflect."
The Sailors came closest to opening the scoring in the 25th minute. But after hitting the woodwork twice in their 1-1 opener against Tanjong Pagar United on March 6, their bad luck continued when Song Ui-young struck the post and Gabriel Quak's follow-up was blocked by defender Syahrul Sazali.
"We cannot play attractive football without the other elements," Vidmar added. "It has been a stop-start season for us, but that really is no excuse. We were rubbish."
The big-spending Sailors are eighth in the nine-team SPL with one point from two games.
They are Singapore's first privatised football club after local billionaire Forrest Li and his tech firm Sea took ownership of former SPL club Home United last month, and signed top national players like Hassan, midfielder Shahdan Sulaiman and forward Quak to spearhead their charge for the SPL title.
Tampines are top of the league with nine points from four games.
The Stags' chemistry from having played under Gavin Lee last season proved invaluable as they were comfortable and assured while building from the back, before Kopitovic's breakthrough.
The new Sailors central midfield pairing of former Stag Shahdan and Song looked like they still lacked understanding, as Australian striker Andy Pengelly was starved of service. Instead, it was the more unheralded Tampines midfielder Shah who shone with an energetic display alongside Kyoga Nakamura and Mehmedovic, as the Stags laid down an early marker.
"I can't commend Shah enough," Lee said. "For a young player, he is comfortable on the ball and getting very good tactically."
In last night's other match, Balestier Khalsa and Hougang United drew 2-2 at Bishan Stadium.