SINGAPORE - They may be the lords of Singapore club football but Tampines Rovers were on the receiving end of a 5-0 humiliation from Hong Kong's Kitchee FC in their Asian Football Confederation (AFC) Cup Group H clash.
It was the defending S-League champions' second successive loss to a team from Hong Kong in continental action this year.
The Stags had earlier lost 1-2 to South China in a qualifier for the elite AFC Champions League.
That loss saw coach Salim Moin's side tumble into the second-tier AFC Cup.
For a side so dominant domestically with three consecutive titles since 2011, Tampines were casual in defence, careless in midfield and clueless up front as the visitors ran riot at Jalan Besar Stadium on Wednesday evening.
Salim conceded: "I lost to a better team. Kitchee played very good football, I learnt something today, and I hope that my players can learn something from them.
"This is just the beginning of season. I hope the team will get back their momentum, and rest assured, come to about four to five matches, you can see that my team will be a better team."
Right from kick-off, the Hong Kong league leaders showed they meant business, passing the ball with zip and purpose as Tampines played with a lone striker (Aleksandar Duric) in the light of star striker Miljan Mrdakovic's suspension.
Wing-backs Lo Kwan Yee and Cheung Kin Fung troubled the Tampines defenders with their overlapping runs while the central midfield duo of Lam Ka Wai and Chan Man Fai dominated with accurate passing and movement.
Five minutes before half-time, Kitchee's Jorge Tarres slotted past goalkeeper Hyrulnizam Juma'at after a burst of speed. The Spanish forward added a second with a lob in first-half stoppage time.
Two minutes after the break, Chan side-footed into the bottom corner to cap a flowing move.
Substitute midfielder Xu Deshuai made it 4-0 with a piledriver in the 56th minute.
Spanish forward Juan Belencoso rounded off the scoring in the 90th minute.
Kitchee coach Alex Chu said: "We were lucky Tampines played South China, (we) had a chance to analyse how they played and we prepared a month for this.
"Tampines played with one striker, maybe it was easier for us to defend."
In the other Group H match, India's Pune FC drew 2-2 at home with Myanmar's Nay Pyi Taw FC.
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