Singapore and Malaysian clubs were back in action in the AFC Cup this week, with several strong performances.
We take a look at how they did and grade their performances.
(4-1 win against Yadanarbon)
Home United continued their goal-scoring form as they secured a place in the knockout stages with a comfortable 4-1 win over Myanmar’s Yadanarbon in a niggly game marred by four red cards. Home’s attacking duo of Stipe Plazibat and Faris Ramli in particular played well, although it was mostly down to poor defending from the visitors that they found themselves 3-0 up after just 25 minutes.
Yadanarbon came into the game after both teams were reduced to ten men, their short, sharp passing game causing some problems for the Home defence, for who Irfan Fandi was outstanding. As the game progressed it was the host’s tendency to overplay things at the back that threatened to let the Myanmar side back into the match until the fourth goal killed them off.
VERDICT: A- A confident showing from Aidil Sharin’s men who were helped by their opponent’s ill discipline and statuesque defending early on. On this form the Protectors could go far in the tournament.
(3-0 win against Magwe)
A few eyebrows were raised ahead of kick off by Benjamin Mora’s team selection as many familiar names and all of JDT’s foreign contingent were either rested or on the bench. However, it proved to be a wise decision as the weakened Johor side easily dispatched a poor Magwe, helped by two early goals that came from simple balls in behind the defence.
The Southern Tigers were in control for most of the second half, restricting the home side to the odd half-chance before substitute Gabriel Guerra wrapped up a comfortable night with a third from another through ball.
VERDICT: B+ Mora’s choices were vindicated as JDT wrapped up an easy win to wrap up second place. A win in their final game could see Johor finish top should Global slip up, otherwise they will have to wait and see if they qualify as the top runner-up.
(3-1 win against Felda)
The Stags finally came good after a run of disappointing form with a win in their do-or-die clash in Malaysia. Tampines looked a lot more solid than in their previous games, but that probably had more to do with a disjointed showing from their hosts, who struggled for fluency particularly early in the first half.
Ivan Dzoni put the visitors ahead after a defensive error, but that only seemed to wake up Felda, who quickly equalised and then looked more likely winners until substitute Khairul Amri’s quickfire double just minutes after coming on took the game away from them.
VERDICT: B+ Jurgen Raab’s side finished where they left off during the unlucky defeat to Hanoi with a second successive solid showing to breathe life into their seemingly dead AFC Cup campaign. It’s hard to believe, but Tampines could still qualify as group winners should they win their last match and Hanoi lose at home to Felda.
(3-1 loss against Tampines)
Felda were in a good position to advance following three good performances, but failed to turn up against Tampines. The Fighters struggled in attack as Argentine striker Lucas Cano looked woefully out of form, while Norshahrul was left isolated until netting his goal.
Things improved after the equaliser, but poor defensive work allowed Khairul Amri all the time in the world to net his two goals and leave Felda at the bottom of the group, although remarkably they still have a slim chance of qualifying.
VERDICT:D Too many players failed to turn up in what was a really weak showing from Felda when they needed to be at their best. B. Sathianathan must be at a loss to explain what happened, especially to his defence which had looked tight in earlier group games. Felda look doomed.