Global peg back Jaguars in four-goal thriller
The Philippines club took the lead but had to come from behind to earn a draw in the first leg of their Singapore Cup semi-final
By Paul Green
Both teams had reasons to be pleased in coming away with a 2-2 draw in Tuesday night’s RHB Singapore Cup semi-final first-leg match at Queenstown Stadium.
Tanjong Pagar United’s remaining players had trained under COE coach Nicolas Possetti, while four others had been members of the S.League Selection side that played Selangor for the Sultan of Selangor’s Cup at Shah Alam on Saturday night, with club coaches Patrick Vallee and D. Tokijan taking charge of the team.
The four players who went away, namely Monsef Zerka, Ahmad Latiff, Hanafi Salleh and Kamel Ramdani, may well have been travel-weary as well as fatigued, but none of them showed any signs of that as the Jaguars matched the fresh Global FC from the Philippines.
Global had three players suspended, while Tanjong Pagar had winger Hafiz Nor out for the same reason.
An early setback of a seventh minute goal by the visitors could certainly have unsettled the home team, but once fully into their stride they were every bit as competitive and creative as their opponents.
By the 29th minute they had drawn level with a smart finish from centre-forward Ismael Benahmed, who beat the goalkeeper at the near post after an Ahmad Latiff free-kick from the left had seen the ball played to the feet of Asraf Rashid. He relayed it to Benahmed, with Zerka drawing defenders away from the path of the ball.
That excellent goal cancelled out Global’s polished opener, a side-footed finish from Misagh Bahadoran after he met a clever, low cross from the right by Aaron Altiche.
The game was played at a solid tempo and was physically demanding, with plenty of robust tackles flying in throughout.
Referee Ahmad A’Qashah, however, kept a firm grip on proceedings and the cautions were kept to a minimum despite the boots flying in.
After some good saves by both goalkeepers, they each made a mistake that resulted in two more goals being scored in opportunist style during the second half.
Firstly, Tanjong Pagar took the lead in the 49th minute when Ramdani’s free-kick was not gathered cleanly by Roland Sadia. The goalkeeper flapped at the cross and Zerka swept the loose ball home at the far post.
A one-goal lead would have been handy to take to the second leg at Jalan Besar Stadium on Friday, but the Jaguars were undone by an uncharacteristic mistake from their own number one, Aurelien Herisson.
A deep cross from the left by Jeffrey Christiaens looked to be sailing harmlessly past the far post.
Uncertain if the ball would go out for a goal-kick and with a Global player lurking handily, Herisson elected to dive on the ball to smother it, but it spun away from his grasp.
The lurking Altiche needed only to dribble the loose ball into an empty net to make it 2-2 and rob Tanjong Pagar of any first-leg advantage.
Right at the end during stoppage-time, a Tanjong Pagar attack broke down and Global’s Bahadoran raced away from inside his own half to find Herisson totally exposed.
The local Philippines player of Iranian parentage had the goal at his mercy but somehow managed to rattle the frame of the goal from a range of only a few yards.
A big let-off indeed, as both teams prepare to battle it out again in the second leg.
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Tanjong Pagar United FC
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