Home crash to opening AFC Cup loss in Maldives

A contentious penalty saw New Radiant edge the Group E game, with Qiu Li subsequently missing from the spot as the visitors went home empty-handed
Home United fell to a second defeat in as many games this season, as they went down 1-0 in their AFC Cup Group E opener against New Radiant SC in Maldives.

Having lost their first S.League game 1-0 against Tampines Rovers last Friday, a contentious penalty for the Maldivian champions condemned the Protectors to defeat by a similar scoreline at the National Stadium in Male.

Mohamed Umair was the hero as he converted from the spot on 53 minutes, after Home goalkeeper Shahril Jantan was adjudged to have brought down Ali Fasiq. The custodian was dismissed for the foul as well, although replays suggested that Ali had dived to earn the penalty.

Qiu Li had the chance to equalise on 70 minutes after being tripped by Akram Abdul Ghanee in the box, but his tame spot-kick was saved by Mohamed Imran to leave the visitors going home empty-handed.

Home coach Lee Lim Saeng chose not to comment on the penalty awarded against his side, instead congratulating New Radiant for their win.

“It is too soon to judge about the penalty," he told AFC.com.

"As a coach I have to respect the decision of the referee. We got a penalty and we missed the chance to score so I think we were to blame for that.

"Actually the Maldivian players played very well and they are very good on the field. I am very surprised as this is the first time that I saw a team from Maldives playing.

“After this match we will go back to Singapore and we will see the video of the match try to minimise the mistakes that we made.”

His opposite number, Angel Perez Garcia, hailed his players' "fantastic" display against a side he described as the "best team in Singapore".

"We got very good open chances and we could have scored five or six goals and the performance of the players was very good, and I am very happy with that," he told AFC.com.

“The most important thing on the field is to read the game and maintain concentration and we did it throughout the game.

“Imran is the best goalkeeper in Asia and he has proved it in today’s game. He saved the penalty and guaranteed us the three points.”

The victory saw the 2013 AFC Cup quarter-finalists move second in Group E behind Indonesian side Persipura Jayapura, who beat India's Churchill Brothers 2-0 in the other game.

Home's next AFC Cup game will be on March 11 against Persipura at Bishan Stadium.

Home XI: Shahril Jantan, Ismail Yunos, Sevki Sha'ban (Farhan Amin 52'), Sirina Camara, Juma'at Jantan (C), Izzdin Shafiq (Fazli Ayob 61'), Syahiran Mizwan (Zulkifli Suzliman 64'), Lee Kwan Woo, Yasir Hanapi, Qiu Li, Song In-young.
Unused subs: Ahmed Fahmie, Bruno Castanheira.