DPMM's surprise home defeat ensured Tampines clinched a second consecutive title, but Mustafic's strike made it a winning end nevertheless
|FROM JALAN BESAR STADIUM
By Kenneth Tan
A first-half penalty by Mustafic Fahrudin was enough to see off the Young Tigers and earn them the league title for the second time in two seasons.
Noh Alam Shah was given a rare start alongside captain Aleksandar Duric and he was largely involved in the opening exchanges. First launching into a full-fledged challenge on Nazirul Naim on four minutes and avoiding a certain red-card, before thumping over from Duric's cross on nine minutes and then returning the favour to his partner Duric who fired straight at Izham Tarmizi in goal.
Harimau settled in midway through with captain Irfan Fazail looking assured in midfield and spraying passes for the dangerous Ferris Danial in attack.
In contrast Tampines were careless in the passing, often resorting to ambitious long balls to crack the Harimau defence.
Nevertheless the Stags were the first to show offensive threat, when Duric slammed home from Anaz Hadee's chipped ball on 35 minutes but the effort was ruled out for offside.
However the Stags duly took the lead four minutes before half time.
A superb counter-attack led by Ahmad Latiff had Mustafic Fahrudin and Sead Hadzibulic involved before Duric was felled by the trailing leg of Harimau centre back Shahrul Saad.
Mustafic stepped up for the penalty, made a stuttering run-up, and cleverly sent Izham the wrong way, handing his side a precious lead.
The second half saw Harimau Muda briefly making their way back into the game.
Syahid Zaidon had two efforts collected by Sasa Dreven while Ahmad Hazwan headed wide from a corner.
Tampines found it hard to crack open the resolute Harimau Muda defence which was marshaled well by the returning Amer Saidin.
Despite Jamil Ali's introduction for the last half hour, the Stags were still unable to string good moves together.
Entering the final ten minutes of the game, news began streaming through that fellow challengers Brunei DPMM were trailing by two goals in Bandar Seri Bangawan, which prompted massive celebrations on the stands by the Tampines Rovers fans.
DPMM eventually lost their encounter against Balestier Khalsa FC 2-0, with strikes from Zulkiffli Hassim and Park Kang Jin surprising the League Cup winners.
Tampines' 2012 S.League triumph is the club's fourth league title, and second back-to-back championship.