Tampines Rovers secured the final playoff place in Group E when they edged Selangor 1-0 at the National Stadium in Singapore on Tuesday.
The win for the Singapore outfit sees them leapfrog Selangor to move into second place in the group behind Ceres of the Philippines, who had already secured their spot in the play-offs.
The home side had the first opportunity of the match in the 11th minute, when Billy Mehmet rose the highest to meet a cross from Noh Rahman, but his header went over the bar.
Yasir Hanapi then opened the scoring for the hosts in the 31st minute, slotting the ball into the top left-hand corner with a sublime curling left-footed strike from the edge of the box, sending the home crowd into delirium.
The sensational goal would help his team through to the AFC Cup knockout stage for the first time since 2011.
Hanapi had another chance just before the end of opening stanza, but Selangor stopper Khalid was equal to the task.
Tampines Rovers had two more chances in the second half, with Hafiz Sujad’s strike crashing into the post and a corner resulting in the ball being headed off the line.
Selangor poured forward in search of the goal that would send them through to the next round, but all in vain.
V. Sundramoorthy’s charges were able to hold on for a memorable victory despite being reduced to ten men after Mehmet was shown a red card in the 86th minute.
The club now goes on to face Mohun Bagan of India in the round of 16.
— AFC Cup (@AFCCup) May 10, 2016
“Yasir’s goal was a great one and he took it really well,” said Tampines coach V. Sundramoorthy.
“The way the ball swerved into the net was worthy of a match winner.
“The win was great for Singapore football as a whole and it is an indication of the rise in our domestic league’s competitiveness.”
Selangor coach Zainal Abidin Hassan lamented the manner in which the only goal was scored and the fact that his team could not convert their opportunities.
“We gave away one silly goal,” said Hassan.
“We tried to find the equaliser but we could not score. We did not give them trouble when the game was even. It was only when we were down then we started to create chances. Once we missed the shots, we were in trouble.”