Great Eastern-YEO’s S.League champions Tampines Rovers were handed a second consecutive pre-season defeat after being beaten 2-0 by FELDA United on Tuesday.
The Malaysia Premier League outfit took the lead at the Jurong West Stadium in the 22nd minute through Edward Junior Wilson’s close-range strike, before Aizul Ridzuan Razali sealed the victory 12 minutes from time with a cracking volley.
The result was the Stags’ second pre-season defeat to Malaysian opposition after they were beaten 7-1 by Johor Darul Ta’zim two weeks ago, and new coach Salim Moin has plenty of work to do ahead oftheir AFC Champions League first round qualifier against South China on February 2.
Nonetheless, there were still some positives for Tampines to take as they showed a number of positives throughout the 90 minutes, although their opponents, who are further advanced in their pre-season preparations, just had an extra bit of polish.
Following a cautious opening where both sides were content to maintain possession, FELDA were first to turn it up a notch and duly opened the scoring with their first real chance in the 22nd minute.
A lapse in concentration by the Stags backline allowed Zah Rahan Krangar to receive possession in acres of space down the right, and he immediately fired in a low cross that Wilson made no mistake in sweeping home from six yards.
Right on the half-hour mark, the visitors came close to doubling their lead after winning a freekick 25 yards out; Indra Putra Mahayuddin drilling in a fierce effort that Hyrulnizam Juma’at had to be alert to punch over the bar.
However, Tampines gradually came to life and had their first sighting of goal three minutes later when Noh Alam Shah raced onto Shahdan Sulaiman’s through-ball and beat his man twice, only to fire straight at Farizal Harun.
They came even closer five minutes before the break when Luis Closa was left in space on the edge of the box and unleashed a blistering effort that had Farizal beaten all ends up, but the post came to FELDA’s rescue.
Closa was really beginning to impress in his playmaker role but in the 49th minute, it was his compatriot Roberto Martinez who nearly helped the hosts find the breakthrough; finding space inside the area and drilling in a cross that Alam Shah somehow failed to convert at the back post.
For FELDA, Zah Rahan was looming as their most-dangerous player and he had a decent effort in the 62nd minute, trying his luck from outside the box but Hyrulnizam showed good hands to make the save down low.
Still, it was Tampines who were gaining the ascendancy and they were again unlucky not to pull level in the 75th minute when Closa laid the ball back to Shahdan, who unleashed a fantastic 30-yard curler that smashed off the bar.
But three minutes later, the Settlers went on to wrap up the win following a sweeping counter-attack; a right-wing delivery dropping kindly to Aizul Ridzuan, who sent a spectacular left-footed volley past a hapless Hyrulnizam and in off the bar.
Tampines Rovers: Hyrulnizam Juma’at, Jufri Taha (Ang Zhiwei 65’), Kunihiro Yamashita, Norihiro Kawakami, Shaiful Esah, Fahrudin Mustafic (Imran Sahib 59’), Shahdan Sulaiman, Ismadi Mukhtar (Matthew Abraham 65’), Luis Closa, Roberto Martinez, Noh Alam Shah (Jamil Ali 59’).
FELDA United: Farizal Harun, Qhairul Anwar Roslani (Hasni Zaidi Jamian), Rahman Zabul, Yaroslav Krushelnitskiy (Ariff Zulkifly 88’), Aizul Ridzuan Razali, Shukor Adan (Nasriq Baharom 72’), K. Solehin (Ahmad Syamim Yahya 55’), Zah Rahan Krangar (Asyraf Al-Japri 82’), Indra Putra Mahayuddin (K. Thanaraj 80’), Edward Junior Wilson (Abdul Latiff 48’).