Tampines begin title defence with Geylang rout

Defending champions Tampines Rovers got their Great Eastern-YEO's S.League title defence off to a perfect start with a 5-0 away win over Geylang International.

Sead Hadzibulic, Tampines Rovers
Gabriel Tan

By Gabriel Tan

Sead Hadzibulic got the Stags on the way at the Bedok Stadium with a 9th-minute opener on Wednesday night, before goals from Shaiful Esah and Firdaus Kasman handed them a commanding lead at the break.

The hosts briefly threatened to stage an unlikely comeback early on in the second half but those hopes were firmly extinguished in the 62nd minute when Jamil Ali netted with a terrific lob, before Singapore international Khairul Amri came off the bench to wrap things up with a fifth eight minutes from time.

The emphatic nature of the result was also rather surprising considering many had tipped Geylang for the title this season, given the impressive reinforcements they had brought in over the off-season.

Having got their campaign off to a winning start last Friday with a 2-1 win over Warriors FC in the Charity Shield, Tampines entered Wednesday's game high on confidence, and although their opponents looked bright early on, it took them just nine minutes to take the lead.

Despite only joining the club midway through last season, Hadzibulic managed to notch an impressive tally of eight goals in the league and it did not take long for him to open his account for 2013 as he met a lovely freekick from Shaiful with a glancing header into the bottom corner.

Nonetheless, the Eagles almost managed an instant reply a minute late when Jozef Kaplan went on a rampaging run through the middle and skipped past a challenge on the edge of the area, before unleashing an effort that stung the palms of Sasa Dreven.

But buoyed at taking such an early lead, the visitors gradually began to dominate proceedings and Argentine marquee signing Martin Wagner nearly doubled their tally in the 16th minute when he pounced on a weak clearance by Norihiro Kawakami and curled an effort that sailed just over.

Three minutes later, they came close again when Jamil Ali broke free down the left and floated a cross to the back post, but the ball sailed just over Hadzibulic's towering leap.

By now, it looked only a matter of time before Tampines got their second and it duly arrived in the 22nd minute when they were awarded a freekick 25 yards out, paving the way for Shaiful to step up and unleash a brilliant strike that arrowed into the top corner.

With a comfortable lead in their grasp, the Stags were now happy to sit back and keep hold of possession, but they continued to look dangerous from set-pieces and Kunihiro Yamashita was unlucky to send a powerful header wide in the 40th minute after showing great desire to meet a Shahdan Sulaiman delivery.

But three minutes later, the contest was all but ended as some awful defending from Khairulnizam Jumahat allowed Jamil Ali to make his way down the left and into the box, before delivering a cross for Firdaus to smash home at the far post.

Needing a minor miracle if they were to salvage anything from the game, Geylang emerged for the second half with all guns blazing and Kaplan really should have pulled one back in the 55th minute when he blazed over despite having plenty of the goal to aim for, after Shotaro Ihata had found space inside the area and selflessly cut the ball back to his skipper.

Three minutes later, the hosts came even closer when Khairulnizam, eager to make amends for his earlier error, forced his way down the right and crossed for Yasir Hanapi, who managed to steer his effort past Dreven despite not getting the cleanest of contact on his strike. However, Seiji Kaneko did extremely well to recover and hacked the ball away before it could cross the line.

The Eagles will now really starting to look dangerous and, on the hour mark, substitute Amy Recha almost made an instant impact when he raced through after Yasir threaded a lovely ball into his path, but Dreven did well to race off his line and deny the youngster in a one-on-one situation.

Had Geylang been able to convert any of those chances, the contest would very much have been back on but two minutes later, they were made to pay for their profligacy as the visitors added a fourth; Jamil racing onto a visionary pass by Hadzibulic before executing a sublime lob over the hapless Ito.

With the three points now well and truly in the bag, the Stags were content to play out the remainder of the game but just for good measure, they added a fifth in the 82nd minute when Firdaus, released down the right by an excellent over-the-top pass from Mustafic Fahrudin, advanced on goal before squaring the ball to leave Amri with the simplest of finishes at the far post, capping off an excellent outing for Nenad Bacina's charges.

Geylang International: Takuma Ito, Khairulnizam Jumahat (Wahyudi Wahid 83'), Delwinder Singh, Norihiro Kawakami, Duncan Elias (Amy Recha 44'), Fabian Kwok, Shah Hirul (Taufiq Ghani 76'), Yasir Hanapi, Jozef Kaplan, Jalal, Shotaro Ihata.

Tampines Rovers: Sasa Dreven, Jufri Taha, Kunihiro Yamashita, Seiji Kaneko, Shaiful Esah, Firdaus Kasman, Mustafic Fahrudin, Martin Wagner (Shannon Stephen 70'), Jamil Ali, Shahdan Sulaiman (Khairul Amri 76'), Sead Hadzibulic (Ismadi Mukhtar 83').

Attendance: 896

Image courtesy of S.League

comments powered by Disqus

Most Popular News

News & Update