Stags on a slide

Stags on a slide
TUSSLE: Warriors’ Hafsyar Farkhan (in blue) gaining an edge over Tampines’ Jufri Taha.

Tampines Rovers' hopes of winning their fourth consecutive S.League title are in tatters following a dreadful eight days where they picked up just one point from three matches.

Last Friday, they were stunned 1-0 at home by Tanjong Pagar. Following that was a disappointing 2-2 draw against Albirex Niigata after leading 2-0 within an hour.

Last night, things went from bad to worse for the Stags as two lapses of concentration allowed Warriors FC to win 2-0 at the Jalan Besar Stadium.

Former national striker Agu Casmir capitalised on Abdil Qaiyyim's mistake in the 13th minute to sweep past goalkeeper Justin Pasfield, before an unmarked Thomas Beattie was allowed time and space for a close-range diving header in the 28th minute.

Tampines were missing the hamstrung defensive pair of Kunihiro Yamashita and Shaiful Esah at the back, as well as the suspended nine-goal striker Miljan Mrdakovic up front, as they were generally uninspiring throughout the first half.

They could fall seven points behind league leaders Brunei DPMM with just five matches remaining in the upcoming half-round, if the Wasps beat Tanjong Pagar tonight at Queenstown Stadium.

Tampines coach Rafi Ali remained defiant and refused to throw in the towel, and said: "Anything can happen. I'll never throw in the towel. If I'm a boxer, I'll be out only if I'm knocked out.

"I hope the injured players can come back in time. It's going to be one heck of a ride.

"These are five must-win games we are facing, and we have to do our job."

Meanwhile, the Warriors breathed life into their own title race as they moved up to second spot and also within two points of Brunei DPMM.

Of the youngsters on show - Tampines also fielded 22-year-old Christopher Huizen and 18-year-old Joseph Taylor - it was the Warriors' 21-year-old winger Suria Prakash who shone with his willingness to run at defenders.

Warriors coach Alex Weaver was pleased with his side's professional performance as they approach the half-round in fine form.

He said: "We defended excellently with tactical discipline. We worked a lot on that - tracking runners and getting distances right.

"We are full of confidence and we know we can beat any team in this league on our day.

"The only thing we haven't done this season is to go on a run. I hope we have timed this right for the half-round."

A minute's silence was observed before the match, in memory of former Singapore national captain Lee Kok Seng, who died of pneumonia last Friday at the age of 81.


This article was first published on August 30, 2014.
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