Warriors FC head coach Jorg Steinebrunner let rip at referee Farhad Mohamad for what he perceived to be a wrong penalty call in their defeat to Tampines Rovers. (Photo: S.League)
A contentious penalty decision against Warriors FC and the subsequent red card for the goalkeeper were the major talking points as the team went down 4-2 to Tampines Rovers on Saturday (30 April) night in the S.League.
The incident occurred in the 50th minute with the Warriors leading 2-1 at Jurong West Stadium, when the Rovers' Fazrul Nawaz appeared to have been brought down in the penalty area by the Warriors' goalkeeper Yazid Yasin.
Referee Farhad Mohamad immediately pointed to the spot, before walking over to confer with his linesman Mohd Asadullah as 1,756 spectators waited expectantly. After a few minutes of deliberation, the official showed a straight red card to Yazid.
Substitute Jermaine Pennant confidently dispatched the spot-kick and the hosts eventually ran out 4-2 winners over their 10-man opponents - a result that left Warriors head coach Jorg Steinebrunner livid.
“It’s a f******* disgrace,” he blasted right away upon entering the press conference room. “The team is playing well, we are 2-1 up and then 10 minutes into the second half, he (the referee) gives a penalty and sends off the goalkeeper. There’s nothing else to say, isn’t it?
“If you want to win a game in football (here), you just have Farhad as the referee and you win the game.
“The goalkeeper wasn’t even the last man and there were five, six players inside the box.”
Fazrul himself agreed, saying: “I definitely feel that it is not a red card because there was a defender in the penalty area… I spoke to Yazid and apologised to him after the incident.”
Warriors go down fighting
The frustrated German had more choice words to say about the refereeing performance, but also praised his charges for not giving up despite the disadvantageous situation at 2-2.
The uniformed giants, looking to end a three-game win-less streak, had responded well after falling behind on 38 minutes.
Despite Izzdin Shafiq and Christopher van Huizen each striking the woodwork from range, the game was a dull one - up until Billy Mehmet broke the deadlock with a fine sidefooted finish.
The Warriors responded swiftly, as if jolted to life. On 42 minutes, Hafiz Nor caught the Tampines defence napping with a late run to coolly slot home a through ball.
On the stroke of half-time, Ridhuan Muhamad exploited a sloppy rearguard again and rounded Izwan Mahbud before calmly firing his side into the lead.
“It was a deserved half-time lead,” Steinebrunner said. “In the second half, we started well and for the first 10 minutes, we didn’t give anything away.”
Then came the penalty incident, but the Warriors continued to commit men in attack instead of playing for the draw.
“If it would have ended 2-2, we would have taken that but at the same time, we (still) wanted to play (the ball) forward,” Steinebrunner explained.
“We were always in the game and I think character-wise, spirit-wise, we tried everything. I think the team responded (well) and that’s good.”
Hafiz Sujad struck a well-taken brace to seal Tampines Rovers' comeback victory. (Photo: Tampines Rovers/Kelly Wong)
Hafiz Sujad the hero for Tampines
They would go home empty-handed though, thanks to a Hafiz Sujad double. The left-back was pushed up to the wing in a tactical change by V. Sundramoorthy and it paid off within minutes.
The 25-year-old handed Tampines the lead again with a calm finish after beating two players on 75 minutes, before wrapping things up in the 88th minute with a drive from range that took a wicked deflection.
Hafiz, who last scored in the S.League during his time with the Young Lions in 2012, was relieved to get the three points.
“We were one man up so the coach just wanted us to keep going and I just took the chances (I had),” he told Yahoo Singapore. “Coming back to get the win tonight after we lost in the AFC Cup is a morale boost and we really needed this win.”
Sundramoorthy had praise for both Hafiz and Pennant, stating that the latter made a big difference after coming on. The former Singapore international was also glad to get their first win against Warriors in nine attempts, which saw them close the gap on leaders Albirex Niigata (S) to three points.
“A win is a win,” he said. “We are quite pleased to get the points… We had many crosses in the box (in the second half); hopefully we can work on it (in future) and finish off our opponents (better).”