BY OOI KIN FAI Follow on Twitter
Malaysia's two representative in the 2017 AFC Cup got their campaign underway but while there were joy for Johor Darul Ta'zim (JDT) fans, it was only sorrow for fans of Felda United.
Despite having their new head coach in B. Sathianathan present, Felda found it tough to get going at the Jalan Besar Stadium. After a tepid display in the first half which ended nil-nil, poor defending in the second half meant that Felda's debut outing in the continental cup competition ended in disappointment.
South Korean, Son Yong Chan got the ball rolling by scoring in the 64th minute. Tampines were very much in control of the match but had to wait until the 83rd minute before Khairul Amri finished off a good run by Japanese forward, Ryutaro Megumi.
Fazrul Hazli came off the bench to grab a consolation goal in the 87th minute for Felda but there just wasn't enough time for The Fighters to stage a complete comeback. Sathianathan observed proceedings from the stands and will no doubt already have plenty in mind on how to improve the fortunes of the 2016 Super League runners-up.
Meanwhile just across the causeway, JDT were largely untroubled as they came away from their opening Group F match against another debutant in Cambodia's Boeung Ket with a comfortable win at the Tan Sri Hj. Hassan Yunos Stadium.
Two early goals from Gabriel Guerra in the 3rd minute and Nazmi Faiz in the 11th minute made the rest of the match very much like a proceeding with the visitors left deflated and bereft of attacking ideas.
The early goals did not quite open the floodgates as one would expect even though JDT continued to create chances after chances but their profligacy in front of goals meant increasing frustrations in the stands.
It wasn't until the 89th minute before JDT grabbed the third goal of the night and the crowd came back in support of them. Safiq Rahim finished off a wonderful driving run from substitute, Gonzalo Cabrera to head home the third goal. That goal meant that Safiq has now scored in the opening AFC Cup group match in three consecutive seasons.