Tampines coach puzzled by the Stags' costly re-taken penalty

Tampines Rovers coach Juergen Rabb does not understand the call to re-take Ivan Dzoni’s penalty which could have put his Stags on the path to victory in Sunday night’s Community Shield match against Albirex Niigata (S).

Albirex won the match 2-1 to lift the Community Shield for a second consecutive season, but things could have been so different if Dzoni’s initial converted penalty was allowed to stand.

Referee Sukbhir Singh ordered a re-take after spotting an infringement, possibly due to Tampines’ Ismadi Mukhtar encroaching the penalty area, just when Dzoni was about to take his shot.

I don’t understand the decision to re-take the penalty and that’s all I want to say to the ref; the rest I don’t want to say something

- Juergen Raab

The new Croatian recruit stepped up to the spot again, but saw his resulting effort crash off the right-hand post before bouncing away to safety.

Speaking at the post-match press conference, Raab did not hide his displeasure at what proved to be the turning point of the game.

“We have a benefit which is the penalty, so why this decision (to disallow the converted effort) when we scored? What’s wrong that we must repeat?” questioned the 58-year-old German.

“I don’t understand the decision to re-take the penalty and that’s all I want to say to the ref; the rest I don’t want to say something.”

Dzoni reacts as his penalty is ruled out

“The rest” Raab was referring to were the three red cards – two of them straight reds - Sukhbir dished out to his side, as they finished the game with just eight men.

The defeat wasn’t an ideal start to the 2017 S.League season for the Stags, but Raab saw enough indication from his new-look side that it can challenge for honours this year.

“For me, this match came two weeks too early for us – playing against a strong and fit team,” said the former Young Lions tactician, who took over in early February. “We’re just two-and-a-half weeks together. If it’s four weeks, we can beat this team, I’m sure.

“But now we start again; we have enough time and I’m optimistic that we can go all the way. It’s not easy after losing a match under such circumstances, but I would say I’m very proud of the team over the 90 minutes.

“They put up a big fight, showed big heart and did a good performance. We were in trouble for the first 30 minutes, but we changed something and scored a very nice goal (through Ryutaro Megumi).

“We had some good attacks in the second half and we always wanted to score the second goal, until the (first) red card came.”

Whether or not the cards are deserved, I think you (the media) can decide for yourself

- Kazuaki Yoshinaga

Meanwhile, Albirex counterpart Kazuaki Yoshinaga was clearly happy to hit the ground running in his first game in charge and does not believe Tampines’ red cards took the gloss off his side’s victory.

“I’m happy to get all three points and the fact that we won a title,” said the 48-year-old, through a translator. “We brought in a lot of new and inexperienced players this season, so this title will stand us in good stead for the future games.

“This is football and I guess the red cards the opponents got was a result of our attacking play. When we attack a lot, their players feel more stressed and commit more fouls. Whether or not the cards are deserved, I think you (the media) can decide for yourself.

“Now the important thing is to prepare for the Young Lions game next Saturday and I’ll be watching them (play against Home United) tomorrow to prepare.”  

Photos: Weixiang Lim/FourFourTwo