AFC CUP GROUP H
TAMPINES ROVERS 0, NAY PYI TAW FC 1 (Carlos Delgado 78)
The warning signs were there after their opponents carved them open on numerous occasions, but Tampines Rovers failed to take heed.
In the end, the defending champions of the Great Eastern-Yeo's S.League paid the ultimate price as they were dumped out of the AFC Cup after a 1-0 loss to Nay Pyi Taw FC at the Jalan Besar Stadium last night.
The Stags only needed a point to progress out of Group H at the expense of their opponents from Myanmar, but the home side simply could not find their way out of second gear.
Coach Salim Moin took responsibility as the Stags crashed out of the first round for the third time in as many years.
"Because of our position, we were too comfortable while Nay Pyi Taw had more desire," said the former Woodlands Wellington coach.
"As a whole, the team played according to the game plan and did their best, but because of a lapse of concentration, we failed to overcome the situation.
"At the end of the day, I will take responsibility for the team's performance."
Tampines started the match the brighter of the two sides, with in-form playmaker Shahdan Sulaiman coming close via a free-kick on 10 minutes.
However, the Stags' swagger disappeared soon after as Nay Pyi Taw forced them onto the back foot.
With ex-Balestier Khalsa defender Obadin Aikhena marshalling the back-line and former Hougang United schemer Carlos Delgado pulling the strings in midfield, the 2013 Myanmar National League runners-up caused problems for Tampines whenever the ball was played into the penalty area.
While poor finishing prevented them from taking the lead earlier, Nay Pyi Taw finally made the breakthrough when Delgado pounced on a loose ball in the 78th minute to rifle a fierce volley past Hyrulnizam Juma'at.
Tampines failed to rally and find the equaliser they needed to avert disaster as Nay Pyi Taw held on to send their fans into dreamland.
While he did not expect to progress, Nay Pyi Taw coach Myo Hlaing Win was pleased with his players' passion and discipline.
He said: "We didn't expect to go through because we don't have any national players and our team are very young.
"Tampines have a lot of experience and good foreigners, but our team had good heart and discipline today."
TAMPINES ROVERS: Hyrulnizam Juma'at 7.5, Ismadi Mukhtar 7, Mustafic Fahrudin 7.5, Shariff Allapitchay 7, Shaiful Esah 5.5 (Imran Sahib 46), Shahdan Sulaiman 6, Aleksandar Duric 6, Miljan Mrdakovic 6, Anaz Hadee 6, Norihiro Kawakami 6, Luis Closa 7 (Noh Alam Shah 63)
NAY PYI TAW FC: Vanlal Hruai, Chan Chan, Latt Ko Ko Aye, Ni Maung Maung Aung, Nay Zaw Aung, Khaing Htoo, Carlos Delgado, Michele di Piedi, Aung Kyaw Naing, Obadin Aikhena, Zaw Lin.
Shots: Tampines 0 on target, 3 off target; Nay Pyi Taw 3 on target, 13 off target
Yellow cards: Tampines 0, Nay Pyi Taw 2
Match rating: 6/10
Referee: Jarred Gavan Gillett - 7/10
TNP Man of the Match: Carlos Delgado (Nay Pyi Taw)
This article was published on April 23 in The New Paper.
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