The Protectors failed to qualify from Group E despite winning 2-0 in Jayapura as they lost out to Churchill Brothers, who beat New Radiant 2-1 to seal second spotFirst, it was Tampines Rovers. Now, Home United has suffered the same fate in the AFC Cup as they too exited the group stages on Wednesday.
It was a bittersweet ending for the Protectors as they failed to qualify for the next stage despite beating Group E leaders Persipura Jayapura 2-0 at the Mandala Stadium on Wednesday afternoon.
They had done their part, but with an inferior head-to-head record, they also needed Churchill Brothers to draw or lose in their subsequent game in order to make it through.
Fazrul Nawaz continued his impressive goal scoring form as he gave the visitors the lead inside the opening 15 minutes. Juma’at Jantan then doubled the score less than 10 minutes later with a long-range strike to seal the win for the Protectors.
It was an impressive victory for the Singapore outfit, considering they are only the third team to have beaten Persipura on their home ground since 2009. Despite the remarkable result, it still was not enough for the Protectors to qualify to the round of 16.
With only one point from the first three games, it was always going to be a near-impossible task for the Singapore Cup winners, but they acquitted themselves in the best possible way by winning all three remaining games against Churchill Brothers, New Radiant and group winners Persipura.
However, it proved in vain as Churchill edged them to second place after they came from behind to beat 10-man New Radiant 2-1.
Both finished with 10 points each, but the Indian side’s better head-to-head record meant that they finished as runners-up and qualified to the Round of 16, while Home was left to rue the what ifs.