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Tampines’ Bennett hails second-half performance

Singapore: Daniel Bennett was full of praise for Tampines Rovers' second-half display after the Singaporean side overcame first-half difficulties to post a 2-1 victory against Myanmar’s Shan United on Tuesday and move top of the Group H standings. 

In testing conditions at Jurong West Stadium, neither side was able to break the deadlock in a goalless first half, before a close-range header from Boris Kiptovic and a Jordan Webb tap-in put Tampines firmly in control after the interval.

Shan netted a consolation in stoppage time but it was too little, too late as the hosts claimed all three points to move two points clear of Indonesia’s PSM Makassar at the Group H summit.

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“I think it's always difficult in the AFC Cup. All of the teams are quality teams with a lot of good players,” said veteran defender Bennett, who returned from injury for the clash.

“It was a hard first half as the field here is not easy to play on, it's very heavy. So we knew as the game went on, if we kept more possession, it would be difficult for them to continue.

“We knew they would get tired and sure enough we opened the gaps and the goals came.”

After defeating PSM in their opening Group H fixture and playing out a scoreless draw away at Kaya FC-Iloilo of the Philippines two weeks ago, the result leaves Tampines in a strong position at the midway point of the group stage.

The victory also continues their excellent run in the competition, with Tampines having won six, drawn two and lost just one of their last nine games on the Continent.

Having overcome the Myanmar champions on home soil, Tampines will next travel to Yangon for the reverse fixture in mid-April when another win would leave them in control of their own destiny going into the final two group games.

“I think in the second half, we started to play a little bit deeper; we drew them out a bit more and there were more gaps to play in to,” explained Bennett.

“And obviously once we scored, we were very much in control. They had to push on and we had the momentum. Until the last five minutes, we were well on top.

“At the end, as I said, the field is not the best here, it's very heavy, and they came at us strong. It just shows the quality of competition. Credit to them because they pushed us all the way until the end.”

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