Stags coach Kadir urges better focus after last-gasp goals

From left: Irwan Shah (left, celebrating with Khairul Amri and Zehrudin Mehmedovic) starting the ball rolling for Tampines Rovers with his third-minute opener against Cambodian club Nagaworld. The Stags won the AFC Cup Group F match 4-2 at the Jalan
From left: Irwan Shah (left, celebrating with Khairul Amri and Zehrudin Mehmedovic) starting the ball rolling for Tampines Rovers with his third-minute opener against Cambodian club Nagaworld. The Stags won the AFC Cup Group F match 4-2 at the Jalan Besar Stadium yesterday.ST PHOTO: JASON QUAH

Tampines Rovers head coach Kadir Yahaya stepped into the press conference and told the media: "Let me catch my breath first."

The adrenaline was clearly still coursing through his veins. His team scored two last-gasp goals in added time to beat Nagaworld FC 4-2 in their AFC Cup Group F match at Jalan Besar Stadium yesterday.

The Stags cemented their place at the top of the group with 10 points, three ahead of Hanoi FC who beat Yangon FC 5-2 in the Asian Football Confederation's second-tier club competition.

Said Kadir: "We really tried to attack from the start to try and break the deadlock, and we could see the opponents trying to defend as much as they could.

"I think we deserved to win and get the three points tonight."

Tampines took the lead in the third minute when Zehrudin Mehmedovic slid a defence-splitting pass to Irwan Shah, who made no mistake with a clinical finish.

But the Cambodian team pulled level in the 14th minute through midfielder Kouch Dani.

The home team thought they had the win in the bag with Yasir Hanapi's half-volley in the 87th minute, only for Nagaworld to equalised again through Omogba Esoh on the stroke of full-time.

There was still time for more late drama, though, as Tampines striker Khairul Amri sent the 1,283 spectators into delirium with a superb overhead kick in the 91st minute.

Jordan Webb then made sure of the three points with the final goal just seconds before the final whistle.

Kadir described the final 10 minutes as "unbelievable", adding: "It's good for the fans on both sides but, from a coach's point of view, I was quite angry with the goals we conceded.

"After we scored, we lost concentration and this is our main problem we have to address."

The Stags play Yangon at Jalan Besar Stadium on May 1 before their last match at Hanoi on May 15.

Kadir added: "We need to be more clinical in front of goal. If we progress, we're going to expect much better teams and much better defence."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 18, 2019, with the headline 'Stags coach Kadir urges better focus after last-gasp goals'. Print Edition | Subscribe