Defending S-League Champions Tampines Rovers are placed in the drivers’ seat as they nicked a come from behind 2-1 win against Albirex Niigata (S) at the Jurong East Stadium in this RHB Singapore Cup Quarter-Final first leg clash.
While it was the White Swans that took control of the game with the possession of the ball throughout the game, it was the Stags that took their chances that mattered in the end.
Jamil Ali produced yet another stellar performance after coming on as a 32nd minute substitute for ineffective Ahmed Fahmie. It took just 30 seconds for the little man to make an impact as he was brought down in the box but Sead Hadzibulic could only see his penalty parried away by Albirex Niigata’s custodian, Takuma Ito. The white swans went into the break a goal ahead, courtesy of a Yasuhiro Yamakoshi’s spectacular effort in the 22nd minute.
Jufri Taha, who replaced Mustafic Farudin just before kick off, as the latter picked up an injury during the warm up, poked home the equalizer from a Hadzibulic’s nod-down in the 50th minute. Ahmad Latiff ensured that it was advantage Tampines when he slotted the ball past Ito in the 79th minute for the winner, after Aleksandar Duric robbed the ball off an Albirex player in the middle of the park.
With Suzuki Cup looming in five months time , Jamil Ali and Ahmad Latiff putting in stellar performances week in week out, it just makes us wonder what else must it take before the duo will be called up for the National Team?
There were controversial decisions by the match officials as usual. The most significant incident happened in the 87th minute, when Okuyama was put through from a quick throw in only for the man in the middle to blow his whistle for the throw in to be retaken after a good six seconds.
The showing of the match officials (referee, linesmen, fourth official and match commissioner) in recent months is a real concern especially so when issues such as a change of player in one team before the kick off isn’t made aware to the opposing team.
Albirex Niigata (S) informed that they will be sending an official complaint to Football Association of Singapore (FAS) regarding the matter today.
It was clearly indicated in the team sheet that Mustafic Fahrudin should be starting the match against the White Swans but it ended up that Jufri Taha was started instead of the former.
Tampines will host Albirex in the second leg of this tie on Friday, 6 July at the Clementi Stadium.
For match photos, click HERE