It was another hectic week for Singapore and Malaysian clubs in the AFC Cup with some contrasting performances.
We take a look at how they did and grade their performances.
(3-2 win against Than Quang Ninh)
A brilliant comeback win for Home United in an end-to-end game that could have gone either way. Home started brightly and took the lead through Song Ui Yong thanks to a fortunate bounce off a defender. The goal sparked the Vietnamese side into life and they struck back with two quick goals after Juma’at Jantan was easily out jumped by Tambwe Patiyo and then sold a trick by Vietnamese international Vu Min Tuan as Home struggled to make the ball stick in attack.
Credit to Aidil Sharin, he shook things up at half time, taking off the ineffectual Adam Swandi and bringing on Marijan Suto to partner Stipe Plazibat as he went with two big men up front. The change worked wonders and Home looked like a different side, the two forwards helping Home dominate possession, and create chance after chance. They were rewarded when the impressive Faris Ramli nodded home. The game could have gone either way as both teams hit the woodwork before the sending off of Hong Quan tipped the balance in Home’s favour. Their domination and pressing finally paid off just minutes from the end when Song, who was arguably lucky to still be on the pitch after a 44th-minute headbutt earned him only a yellow, lashed home from the edge of the box to hand Home the points.
VERDICT: B+ A welcome three points for Sharil and Home United in a must-win game following the disappointment of losing to Yadanarbon, and just reward for a positive performance. A solid showing by Irfan and Mutalib at the back, although Sharin must be concerned about the ease in which Juma’at was outmuscled and outsmarted for both goals.
(4-0 win against Global FC)
This game was never as comfortable as the scoreline suggests, although JDT put in a strong performance and deserved the win. After a lively first half-hour from the hosts, Johor grabbed the lead through Mahalli before a questionable penalty helped put some daylight between the two sides.
Global came out strong after the break and created several chances, but stout defending from Benjamin Mora’s side kept the Philippine side at bay before two late goals for JDT put paid to Global’s attempted recovery.
VERDICT: B A professional performance from the 2015 winners who seem to be coming together after a slow start under Mora. The win will put the JDT squad in good spirits ahead of what will be the pivotal clash in Manila next month.
(0-0 draw with Ceres)
Felda will be kicking themselves after somehow failing to take three points from this fixture. Ceres were brought back down to earth following last week’s thrashing of Tampines by a dogged display from the Malaysians, who defended well and hit effectively on the break.
It’s hard to believe that this was the same Felda squad that looked so poor in the opening loss against Tampines. Here, they fought like tigers, stifling the Ceres attack and creating several good chances of their own through Liberian playmaker Zah Rahan Krangar. The best chance, however, came on the hour when Norshahrul weaved his way into the box with some outstanding skill and was brought down. Lucas Cano scuffed the resulting spot kick and saw it saved by Roland Muller. Cano was the villain again a few minutes later when he shot wide from a great position.
VERDICT:A- Felda did everything but score in an accomplished performance against a strong Ceres side. If they can carry this level of performance into the next three games then they could still qualify.
(0-4 loss to Hanoi FC)
Another week, another dreadful showing from the Stags as they were put to the sword by a strong Hanoi side. Tampines coach Juergen Raab made changes following last week’s horror show in the Philippines, dropping Mustafic Fahrudin and reverting to a back four, although it had little effect as the Stags spent the first half defending deep after Loris Arnaud gave the hosts the lead with a deflected shot after 16 minutes.
Tampines looked much better at the start of the second and were in the ascendancy when the match’s pivotal moment played out. Khairul Amri did everything right in the 63rd minute, after streaking down the left flank and cutting inside to present himself with a one on one with Hanoi keeper Nguyen Van Cong. But then instead of finding the corner of the net, Amri curled the ball agonisingly past the far post. To make matters worse, Hanoi went straight down the other end to score the goal that killed the match. Like last week the Tampines defence switched off, Yasir Hanapi losing his man and allowing Nguyen Van Quet a free header. Two late goals only compounded the agony and capped another miserable showing for the Singaporeans.
VERDICT: D- Poor defensive work and a weak showing from the central midfield means Juergen Raab has a lot of thinking to do, although it already looks like qualification is a pipe dream for the Stags.