Megumi Double Down Protectors
Written by: Ryan Low
Home United’s Great Eastern-Hyundai S.League title chances took a huge dent after they suffered a 2-0 defeat at the hands of Tampines Rovers at Bishan Stadium on Monday night.
Japanese winger Ryutaro Megumi was absolutely on fire as he scored early in each half to sink the Protectors.
Tampines were dealt a blow after just six minutes when forward Fazrul Nawaz had to be replaced by Ivan Dzoni due to a hamstring injury.
However, that did not stop the Stags from taking the lead on 13 minutes. Megumi cut inside his marker before firing an unerring left-footed grounder past a helpless Hassan Sunny in the Home goal.
Home then got an excellent opportunity to restore parity 14 minutes later when Faris Ramli released Irfan Fandi through on goal, but the latter fired disappointingly wide of the left-hand post.
Tampines were unlucky not to have gone into the break two goals up, with Hafiz Sujad’s right-footed shot coming off the post before Dzoni’s follow-up was denied by Hassan.
The Stags carried where they left off after the restart and duly doubled their advantage on 55 minutes.
Megumi latched onto a perfectly-weighted pass by Dzoni, before proceeding to fire a low right-footed shot beyond the despairing reach of Hassan.
Tampines then stood firm at the back to deny Home from finding a way back into the game.
Aidil Sharin’s side did come close to getting one back through Faris on 70 minutes, but the Singapore winger headed inches wide from Shamil Sharif’s teasing cross.
The result saw Tampines go four points clear of Home in second, but still trail leaders Albirex Niigata (S) by six points.
Home United Head Coach Aidil Sharin: “I don’t want to give excuses, but we’re the only team that played so many games. Today not just one or two, but many of them didn’t look sharp at all. They’ve been playing many games since the start of the year so it’s not easy to maintain the quality.
“We have to give credit to Tampines. They made a good game plan and made use of their players to penetrate us. The passes were bad today and we need to find out why.
“Since we cannot finish first, we want to finish second. We’ve another big game against Warriors coming up at Choa Chu Kang on Friday.”
Tampines Rovers Head Coach Jurgen Raab: “The whole team played very well for the whole 90 minutes, we played very organised and very calm. They only had chances from set pieces and they never found the style to trouble us.
“Our performance was very pleasing and we showed why we’re in this position. Now we have three matches left and it’s all in our hands to finish second. We must beat (Garena) Young Lions and (Brunei) DPMM next.
“After we lost to Albirex (in August), I said we cannot do something (in the title race) because we had no more matches against them. I don’t think they will make mistakes but it’s still a great success for us to finish second.”
Home United: Hassan Sunny (GK, C), Aqhari Abdullah, Abdil Qaiyyim, Hariss Harun, Sufianto Salleh (Amiruldin Asraf 57’), Shamil Sharif, M. Anumanthan, Adam Swandi, Faris Ramli (Marijan Suto 77’), Stipe Plazibat (Iqram Rifqi 83’), Irfan Fandi
Tampines Rovers: Izwan Mahbud (GK), Madhu Mohana, Fahrudin Mustafic (C), Daniel Bennett, Shannon Stephen, Son Yong Chan, Shahdan Sulaiman, Irwan Shah (Khairul Amri 71’), Ryutaro Megumi (Zulfadhmi Suzliman 86’), Fazrul Nawaz (Ivan Dzoni 6’), Hafiz Sujad