Tampines exit AFC Champions League after playoff loss vs. Global FC
Tampines Rovers' bid to qualify for the 2017 AFC Champions League was brought to an abrupt halt after they were beaten 2-0 by Global FC in the in first preliminary round of qualifiers on Tuesday night.
Following a goalless first half at the Rizal Memorial Stadium in Manila, Ahamd Azzawi opened the scoring for Global a minute after the hour mark before Misagh Bahadoran sealed the win with a second in the 73rd minute.
The victory means the Philippine outfit are through to the next round of qualifying, and will face Australian side Brisbane Roar on Jan 31. The Stags will have to settle for a place in the 2017 AFC Cup.
Regardless of the outcome, Tuesday's game would have been a monumental one considering it was the first time a side from the Philippines were participating in a Champions League tie of any kind.
Global certainly looked up for the occasion from the opening whistle, with captain Bahadoran, in particular, extremely lively in attack.
He had the first real chance in the 16th minute when he fired straight at Izwan Mahbud after linking up well with Azzawi before Dennis Villanueva spurned an opening three minutes later when his touch let him down with only the opposition keeper to beat.
Izwan then produced a fine save to keep out a glancing header from Villanueva, but Tampines did have moments when they threatened the hosts.
Madhu Mohana had a decent opportunity when he was picked out unmarked inside the box, but sent a free header wide, while Ryutaro Megumi forced Patrick Deyto into action with a shot from an acute angle.
The closest the visitors came to breaking the deadlock came through a Khairul Amri freekick five minutes before the break when he sent a free kick narrowly off target. But Global continued to look the more dangerous of the two sides in the second half.
They looked destined to open the scoring seven minutes after the restart when Bahadoran was found by Shu Sasaki's excellent right-wing delivery, and beat Izwan to the ball, only for his shot to be cleared off the line by Madhu.
Nonetheless, there was to be no denying Global in the 61st minute courtesy of the combination between Bahadoran and Azzawi, with the former releasing the latter to fire past Izwan into the roof of the net.
Twelve minutes later, Azzawi returned the favour as he fed the Philippines international, whose shot from outside the box deflected off Daniel Bennett, and nestled into the bottom corner.
The Stags did have a chance to set up a grandstand finish when they were awarded a penalty a minute from time for a foul by Villanueva on Shakir Hamzah.
However, Tampines were not even allowed to grab a consolation as Deyto did brilliantly to push Amri's spot kick onto the bar, compounding a miserable day for the visitors, and sealing Global's progress.
The Stags will still participate in continental football in 2017 in the AFC Cup, where they have been drawn in Group G alongside Felda United, Ha Noi and Ceres-Negros.
"I'm so happy to be part of this -- the biggest victory by a Philippine football club," said Bahadoran.
"It's amazing and I will enjoy this moment until we go to Australia [to face Brisbane Roar] where I hope we do our best again, and we will see how we go from there.
"We are the first club representing Philippines in the Champions League, and we know it's a privilege. But it also produces the problem, as no club has ever had to handle this before.
"But we knew that, when we step onto the field, our job was to score and win the game and we did it."
Meanwhile, Tampines coach Akbar Nawas was left lamenting his team's inadequacies at the back.
"We should have defended better," he conceded. "Individually, we could have stopped those goals from coming in and we did not stop things from the [Global] build-up.
"Of course, this is the Champions League, but [the positive is] this experience will help us in our pre-season training and, hopefully, the start of a good [S.League] season back home."
Global FC: Patrick Deyto, Serge Kaole (Marco Casambre 85'), Amani Aguinaldo, Paul Mulders (OJ Clarino 67'), Jerry Barbaso, Shu Sasaki, Dennis Villanueva, Matthew Hartmann, Hikaru Minegishi, Ahamd Azzawi, Misagh Bahadoran
Tampines Rovers: Izwan Mahbud, Son Yong-chan, Madhu Mohana, Daniel Bennett, Shakir Hamzah, Ismadi Mukhtar (Irwan Shah 87'), Fahrudin Mustafic (Jufri Taha 74'), Yasir Hanapi, Ryutaro Megumi, Ivan Dzoni (Fazli Ayob 87'), Khairul Amri
Gabriel Tan is a TV and radio pundit who writes for ESPN FC and The New Paper on Southeast Asian football. Twitter: @gabetan13.