Tampines Rovers had gone ahead in the 63rd minute © Getty Images (Representational Image)
Tampines Rovers had gone ahead in the 63rd minute © Getty Images (Representational Image)

Guwahati: Federation Cup champions Mohun Bagan had to pay the price for fielding a second string outfit as they lost their AFC Cup pre quarter-final by 1-2 against a 10-man Tampines Rovers of Singapore on Tuesday. It was late into the second half extra time (116th minute) that Afiq Yunos’s precision finish from a set-piece assist by former Liverpool winger Jermaine Pennant saw the Stags reach the last eight of the Asia’s second tier continental club championship. It was creditable for Tampines as they were down to 10 men in the 53rd minute after Shakhir Hamza was given marching orders having picked up his second yellow card.

Tampines had gone ahead in the 63rd minute when Jordan Webb’s innocuous cross from the right flank saw Bagan’s third choice goalkeeper Arnab Das Sharma bungle while trying to judge the flight. The green-and-maroon brigade however were back in the mix when midfielder Bikramjit Singh’s pile driver from 35-yards crashed into the back of the net as he restored parity for the home team.

However with Bagan mainstay Haitian Sony Norde absent due to national duty, playmaker Katsumi Yusa out with injury and an overworked first team goalie Debjeet Majumdar rested, the team lacked the firepower with Pennant controlling the midfield. Not to forget the absence of India internationals Pritam Kotal and Prannoy Haldar. In fact Tampines could have gone ahead in the 43rd minute when the Bagan defence was caught napping with Pennant essaying a defence splitting pass after a brilliant sprint down the middle-third.

He found an unmarked Webb, who beat Dhanachandra with sheer pace but his placement past a surging Das Sharma was off target. Bagan also had a good chance when prolific strike Jeje Lalpheklhua’s head off a swerving flag kick was saved on the goalline by opposition defender Mukhtar.