Tampines pip Yangon to top AFC Cup group

Tampines Rovers' hat-trick hero Khairul Amri taking a shot past lunging Yangon United defender Thu Rein Soe in their AFC Cup Group F match at the Jalan Besar Stadium yesterday. Tampines won 4-3.
Tampines Rovers' hat-trick hero Khairul Amri taking a shot past lunging Yangon United defender Thu Rein Soe in their AFC Cup Group F match at the Jalan Besar Stadium yesterday. Tampines won 4-3.ST PHOTO: GAVIN FOO

Defender Irwan scores injury-time goal to seal 4-3 win; coach Kadir laments mistakes

Tampines Rovers needed a three-goal salvo in the dying minutes in their last AFC Cup Group F match on April 17 to secure a 4-2 victory over Cambodia's Nagaworld FC.

Last night, the Singapore Premier League side endured another "crazy" AFC Cup game as they lost the lead twice before beating Myanmar's Yangon United 4-3 at the Jalan Besar Stadium.

Stags striker Khairul Amri went home with the match ball after notching a hat-trick with goals in the second, 43rd and 77th minutes despite missing a host of chances.

But his treble was almost not enough for the win as Yangon capitalised on sloppy defending to come back from 2-0 down to draw level in an end-to-end second half with goals from Soe Min Naing (58th), Maung Maung Lwin (71st) and Kyaw Zin Oo (85th).

The visitors, clearly fired up by a sizeable Myanmar contingent among the 1,827 fans, could have even gone ahead in the 87th minute, but Tampines goalkeeper Syazwan Buhari did well to deny Kosuke Yamazaki.

That allowed Tampines full-back Irwan Shah to steal the show and three points in the 91st minute as he latched on to Madhu Mohana's flick-on to lash past Wai Lin Aung for his fourth goal in all competitions this season.

Tampines lead Group F with 13 points and need a draw at Hanoi FC on May 15 to be sure of making the Asean Zonal semi-finals. Second-placed Hanoi have 10 points after beating Nagaworld 5-1 yesterday.

While they may also qualify as the best runners-up from the three Asean groups if they lose in Vietnam, Tampines coach Kadir Yahaya wants his team to improve on their defending if they are to go far.

He said: "Like the last game against Nagaworld, after we scored the first goal, we dropped a gear.

"Maybe that was due to confidence, but we had chances to kill off the game which we didn't make full use of. We entertained the fans but, from a coach's perspective, we made individual errors that we need to correct in order to go further.

"We have been conceding in the last five to 10 minutes, which is quite worrying. If we played a stronger team today, they would have killed us."

Amri also felt the need for improvements, saying: "It was a crazy game. I missed a lot of chances and let my team down and they had to fight until the final whistle.

"I'm happy to contribute three goals, but it was almost not enough and I should have scored four or five.

"We will need to be sharper in the upcoming games."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 02, 2019, with the headline 'Tampines pip Yangon to top AFC Cup group'. Print Edition | Subscribe