RHB Singapore Cup Quarter-Final 1st Leg
Albirex Niigata (S) 1 (Yasuhiro Yamakoshi 21’)
Tampines Rovers 2 (Jufri Taha 50’, Ahmad Latiff 78’)
In the first leg of the RHB Singapore Cup Quarter Final played at the Jurong East Stadium last night, visitors Tampines Rovers beat Albirex Niigata (Singapore) 2-1 in front of 742 fans to take a narrow but yet precious lead into the second leg this Friday.
Yasuhiro Yamakoshi put the Japanese outfit ahead in the 21st minute with a stupendous strike at goal before Jufri Taha equalized for the Stags with the easiest of tap-ins right after the break. Ahmad Latiff then secured the victory for Tampines twelve minutes from time.
Tampines suffered a blow early on when they were forced to make a change as early as the first minute when midfielder Fahrudin Mustafic had to be withdrawn from the team after suffering a ‘strain’, according to head coach Steven Tan after the game. It was however, purely a precaution as Tan decided that it was not worth the risk to field him.
The game got off to a slow start as both sides tried to find a way through each other’s backline with Tampines creating the first goal scoring opportunity in the 20th minute. It was Sead Hadzibulic with a chipped pass to Ahmed Fahmie on the edge of the area but the Tampines number 5 scuffed his eventual shot as it trickled out for a goal kick.
But it was the White Swans of Albirex who drew first blood a minute later. Picking up the ball some 30 yards out from goal, Yasuhiro Yamakoshi looked up to see if he had teammates available to receive a pass from him. But instead of passing the ball, he chose to try his luck from that distance and his shot whizzed past the stranded Sasa Dreven and into the top corner.
Yamakoshi then came close to doubling his side’s lead on the half-hour mark. Playing a one-two with Sho Kamimura, his effort from outside the area sailed just over the bar.
Tampines should have found themselves back on level terms in the 32nd minute when substitute Jamil Ali was brought down in the penalty area right after coming on. In the absence of regular penalty taker Mustafic, Hadzibulic stepped up only to see Albirex’s Takuma Ito going the right way to deny the striker his third of the season since joining the Clementi-based side last month.
1-0 it was at half-time and Tampines came out even stronger in the second half, equalizing in the 50th minute.
Gligor Gligorov’s free kick to the far post was met by a downward header from Hadzibulic and into the path of Jufri Taha, who just needed to tap the ball across the line for the equalizer.
The next chance of the game came about 15 minutes after Jufri’s goal. It was an Albirex chance this time round as Masatake Sato’s low cross found its way to Yamakoshi in the penalty area, forcing Dreven to a good reaction save.
Albirex were made to pay the price in the 78th minute when Ahmad Latiff scored the winner after an error from defender Kunihiro Yamashita. He was caught in possession about 25 yards away from goal as Aleksandar Duric unselfishly laid a pass for the onrushing Latiff who curled a low shot into the bottom corner to put Tampines into a good position for the second leg of this tie.
Jamil Ali though, could have made it three for Tampines in injury time but fired narrowly wide after being put through on goal.
Albirex Niigata (S): Takuma Ito (GK); Norihiro Kawakami (C), Yuki Ichikawa, Kunihiro Yamashita, Takeshi Ito; Shuhei Hotta, Musashi Okuyama, Masatake Sato (Keita Kobayashi 78’), Atsushi Shimono; Yasuhiro Yamakoshi (Toshikazu Soya 83’), Sho Kamimura
Unused subs: Keisuke Matsui, Hidekazu Yamamoto, Yuta Oguriyama, Masahiko Ando, Hiroaki Hara (GK)
Tampines Rovers: Sasa Dreven (GK); Fahrudin Mustafic (Jufri Taha 1’), Anaz Hadee, Benoit Croissant; Ismadi Mukhtar, Ahmad Latiff, Imran Sahib; Gligor Gligorov, Aleksandar Duric (C), Sead Hadzibulic (Sazali Salleh 90’), Ahmed Fahmie (Jamil Ali 32’)
Unused subs: Fazil Zailani, Ali Hudzaifi, Hafez Mawasi (GK), Hairulnazri Hanafi
Yellow card(s): - (Albirex); Gligor Gligorov (Tampines)
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