Defending Great Eastern Yeo’s S.League Champions Tampines Rovers suffered their first league defeat of the season when they were beaten 1-0 by Tanjong Pagar United at the Queenstown Stadium on Sunday. Kamel Ramdani’s solitary strike on 68 minute was enough for the Jaguars to become the first team to achieve maximum points from the Stags in this new campaign.
Despite having to compete without the services of Shahdan Sulaiman (ill), Kunihiro Yamashita and Ismadi Mukhtar (both injured), Tampines had Tanjong Pagar under pressure for large periods during the game. However, the Stags couldn’t find an opening past the impressive centre defensive pairing of Walid Lounis and Anthony Aymard for the visitors.
Both teams played out a well organized and disciplined game with both sets of players entertaining the 1800-strong crowd on the night. The Jaguars struck the only goal of the night when a free kick some 30 yards away from goal was awarded to them. Ramdani stepped up, curling his effort into the bottom left hand corner.
The Stags had an excellent opportunity to bring home a point near the end but Jamil Ali’s effort from inside the 18-yard box sailed agonizingly over the bar.
Stags’ coach, Nenad Bacina, was in no mood to make excuses, preferring to praise his team for their efforts and complimenting his opponents for theirs. He observed that his team had been given only five days to recover from their last game and that he had a number of players out of action, but played down the part any of that may have played in his team’s defeat.
“Sure we had a tough AFC Cup game on Tuesday and we had Shahdan (Sulaiman) out, as well as (Kunihiro Yamashita) and Ismadi (Mukhtar), but the boys who played did well tonight,” he said.
“It’s one loss and we won’t be dwelling on this as we are still leading the table and we don’t have to worry about the AFC Cup any more. We still have trophies to play for and Tanjong Pagar is a strong side, (so no disgrace losing to them),” he added.
Bacina was hoping that Shahdan could be back for his team’s next game, though the Croatian coach acknowledged that he won’t have either Ismadi or Yamashita for some while yet.
“Shahdan has been unwell, rather than injured, and I’ll need to see how he is once he is well again, as he has not trained for some time,”
The Stags take on Geylang International next on Thursday evening at the Clementi Stadium.