Singapore: Jordan Webb believes that Tampines Rovers’ ability to deal with PSM Makassar’s aerial balls was key in helping them claim a 2-1 victory in their opening 2020 AFC Cup game at Jalan Besar Stadium on Wednesday.
Canadian Webb broke the deadlock for the Singaporean side midway through the first half before Boris Kopitovic added a second in the 64th minute as Tampines looked to be heading for a comfortable victory.
The Indonesian visitors fought back, though, with Ferdinand Sinaga getting on the scoresheet soon after as Makassar sought to salvage a draw, but Tampines were able hold out to get their Group H campaign off to a winning start.
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“It went well in the first half; we dominated possession and created a lot of chances, so we should have finished it off then,” said Webb.
“In the second half they came at us, we were struggling with fatigue and we didn’t make a substitution until later on, but it was a fair result at the end of the day.”
No team in the 2020 AFC Cup has made more appearances than Tampines, who are competing in their 12th edition, having debuted back in 2005.
Webb netted four times in the 2019 campaign as Tampines won four and drew one of their opening five games, only to miss out on ASEAN Zonal semi-final qualification after losing their final group game to Hanoi FC.
Despite having to withstand second-half pressure from Makassar on Wednesday, the hosts showed plenty of resilience to hold out as their bid to reach the knockout rounds for the first time since 2016 got off to a perfect start.
“We defended well because they’re pretty big, so we had to deal with their crosses because that is their strength,” added Webb.
“So that was pretty much the defining thing of the game. We did well in the air, and when we neutralised their crosses we were alright.”
Appearing in their second successive AFC Cup, meanwhile, Makassar will have been disappointed with their tournament opener as they aim to build on reaching the ASEAN Zonal semi-finals last year.
The Indonesian side went unbeaten in the group stage in 2019 and with home games against Myanmar’s Shan United and Kaya FC-Iloilo of the Philippines to come, they will need to return to winning ways if they are to advance from the first round once more.
“In the first half we didn’t play well, we were a little bit naive,” said Makassar’s head coach Bojan Hodak. "They’ve played together for a few years and were changing positions without the ball, which we didn’t understand.
“In the second half, we were much better but there was still not enough coordination up front. In the end we had nine players who were playing almost for the first time together, so we need a little bit of time.
“There were positive and negative things, but the result is negative so that’s not good. When you win it’s good, when you lose you need lots of changes.”
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