Tampines Rovers were the favourites to beat Ceres La-Selle at home on Tuesday evening but instead they had to settle for a 1-1 draw. Here are some observations made from that game…
Who was the home team?
Honestly, for the first 45 minutes, it seemed Ceres were the ones playing at home. They looked comfortable and threatened to carve Tampines open.
While the Stags improved considerably in the second half, the Filipino side was still matching them. For a team supposedly suffering from fatigue, Ceres were definitely not intimidated by playing at Jalan Besar Stadium.
Showboating a bit too much?
Was there a tad bit of showboating on display? The likes of Jermaine Pennant and Jordan Webb did show neat touches and dribbling skills but there were times the Stags were crying out for a practical pass or cross instead of fanciful footwork.
There was one occasion Pennant hogged the ball in midfield and managed to beat two markers, but it was as though he wanted to show what he could do, when a simple pass to either Yasir Hanapi or Shahdan Sulaiman, both of whom were at his side, would have sufficed.
Yet when they turned it on, the much-vaunted attack of Billy Mehmet, Pennant and Webb showed just what they were capable of as they were involved in the build-up to Hafiz Sujad’s 69th-minute goal.
The curious case of South Korean Kwon Jun
Tampines coach V.Sundramoorthy surprisingly benched Kwon Jun against Ceres, and instead started Afiq Yunos and Noh Rahman in centre of defence.
Brought in only to play the AFC Cup matches, it begs the question of why is the South Korean exactly at Tampines if Sundram does not require his services?
Kwon Jun did come on towards the end of the game, but his impact was negligible.
Group E still wide open
If Tampines had held on for victory, they would have nine points in the group and have one foot firmly planted in the next round.
Even though they remain top of the group with seven points, the draw meant Ceres are still close behind in second place with five points, while Selangor’s last-gasp win in Bangladesh put them just three points behind the Stags.
This group is still wide open and Tampines are not out of the woods yet.