Tampines fall agonisingly short of historic AFC Cup semi-final

Tampines Rovers fell just short in their bid to make AFC Cup history, managing just a 0-0 draw in the second leg of their quarter-final against Indian side Bengaluru to crash out 1-0 on aggregate...

Tampines Rovers exited the AFC Cup at the quarter-final stage on Wednesday night after failing to overcome Bengaluru in a two-legged affair.

The Stags went down to Bengaluru 1-0 on aggregate after they could only muster a scoreless draw in the return leg at Jalan Besar Stadium.

Needing at least one goal to draw level, Tampines attacked relentlessly right from the opening whistle.

They nearly opened the scoring in spectacular fashion in the 11th minute after Hafiz Sujad won the ball in midfield and ran towards goal before letting fly from all of 25 yards. However, Bengaluru goalkeeper Amrinder Singh just managed to tip the ball over.

Tampines’ next chance came in the 22nd minute, as Yasir Hanapi met Irwan Shah’s cross in the box but from a tight angle he could only volley into the side-netting.

The hosts’ desire to seek a goal also left space at the back and it nearly resulted in Bengaluru scoring in the 38th minute but Eugeneson Lyngdoh just missed connecting with C.K Vineet’s cross.

Upon the restart, Tampines continued to knock on the door and Yasir’s shot flew just wide of the post after Jordan Webb had laid the ball on for him.

Mehmet and co tried to attack, but to no avail

Just a minute later, Sunil Chhetri had a shot from outside the box but Izwan got down quickly to parry the ball away.

Tampines continued to toil for that all-important goal and it nearly came in the 74th minute after Yasir met Webb’s flick-on and went for goal but Amrinder was equal to the task.

Izwan was then called upon to keep Tampines in the game two minutes later as Lyngdoh raced through on goal but his toe-poke was kept out by Izwan.

With time running out, Tampines coach Akbar Nawas threw on Sufian Anuar for Yasir and piled the pressure on Bengaluru.

With time running out, Tampines coach Akbar Nawas threw on Sufian Anuar for Yasir and piled the pressure on Bengaluru

It nearly paid off two minutes from time when Pennant managed to release Irwan Shah but the defender’s shot could not beat Amrinder.

In the dying minutes of the game, Hafiz was picked out by Billy Mehmet but his tame shot failed to trouble Amrinder.

That would be Tampines’ final chance in the game as they fell short in their bid for a first ever trip to the continental tournament’s final four.

Photos: Weixiang Lim/FourFourTwo