A Hanoi FC player dribbles the ball as Tampines Rovers FC players chase. – AFC
BY Fadhil Yunus
DPMM FC fierce rivals in the AIA Singapore Premier League Tampines Rovers FC narrowly missed out on a berth in the ASEAN Zonal semi-finals of the AFC Cup after they were unseated as the best runners-up team by Becamex Binh Duong on the last day of the campaign.
The Singapore-based side only tasted defeat once in six group stage games but the solitary defeat proved fatal to their hopes of progressing further in the competition.
Tampines accumulated 13 points in Group ‘F’- the same number of points as the V League 1 side- but came short by virtue of goal difference with seven compared to Becamex’s eight.
The Stags’ qualification hopes hung on a balance after they were beaten 2-0 by Hanoi FC, who pipped them to top of the group and assured qualification.
Tampines could have advanced as the best runners-up team if Becamex failed to get all three points against Ceres Negros FC, who have won all their group stage matches, in Group ‘G’.
Tampines, who could have qualified if they pick up a point against Hanoi, looked to seal their passage in the next round but two minutes from time Becamex’s Wander Luiz popped up a winner out of nowhere after Ceres goalkeeper Roland Muller was spotted off his line.
The forward later admitted in a press conference that he had waited all game long to find the moment after noticing Ceres Negros’ goalkeeper’s habit of moving far from his line.
“I saw from the beginning that the goalkeeper was always out of goal so I was waiting for an opportunity,” the 27-year-old said during a post-match press conference.
The Singapore outfit’s exit in the continental competition means that they will fully concentrate on league commitments as they look to push on their fourth place standing.
Meanwhile, Home United FC, another one of DPMM FC’s opponents in the Singapore top flight, finished second in Group ‘H’ with 10 points.
Group winners PSM Makassar of Indonesia will be among the teams in the semi-finals hat alongside Philippines’ Ceres Negros FC and the Vietnamese pair of Hanoi FC and Becamex Binh Duong.
The winners of the ASEAN Zonal final will then compete in the inter-zone playoff semi-finals alongside the winners of Central Asia Zone, South Asia Zone and East Asia Zone. The winning team in the inter-zone final in the subsequent round will challenge for the AFC Cup in the final against the winners of the West Asia Zonal final.
Meanwhile, the teams that will feature in the West Asian Zone semi-finals have been decided namely Al-Wehdat, Al Ahed, Al-Jaish and Al-Jazeera.
-- Courtesy of Borneo Bulletin