SINGAPORE: Lion City Sailors kept their hopes of progressing from the AFC Champions League Group F alive as they won 2-0 against South Korean giants Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors on Wednesday, Nov 8, at the Jalan Besar Stadium. Another Singapore Premier League club, Hougang United, could not enjoy the same success on the field as they suffered a 3-1 loss to Indonesian club PSM Makassar in the AFC Cup Group H encounter played the next day at the same venue.

Many did not expect the win as the Sailors were handed a 3-0 defeat by the South Korean club when the two clubs met last month at the Jeonju World Cup Stadium. Coming into the match with only three points, the Sailors were keen to add to their tally. Buoyed by the boisterous home support, head coach Aleksandar Rankovic’s boys put on an improved performance and a more attacking display as they sought goals from the start of the match.

“We gave the perfect response which was really necessary. I want the players to realise the significance of what they’ve done. “The supporters were tremendous, they helped us a lot and they’re a part of our club, in the way they support us, even in away games. I hope we gave them something they could be proud of, and I hope to see at every game we play that we have crowds like this, not only in the ACL but in the league and Singapore Cup as well,” said Sailor’s head coach Rankovic during the post-match conference.

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Photo: Facebook screengrab / theafccl

In the 22nd minute, Richairo Zizkovic No. 34 was through on goal, but Jeonbuk’s goalkeeper saved his shot and went out for a corner. Less than two minutes later, Zozkovic finally found the breakthrough for the match’s opening goal. Maxime Lestienne’s long ball upfield found Shawal Anuar, who knocked it down into the path of Zizkovic. The sailor’s number 34 made no mistake as he volleyed it towards the goal to make it 1-0 in the 23rd minute.

The home side continued their attacking play into the second half. Lestienne had a goal-scoring opportunity in the 54th minute, but his shot glazed across the goal line and hit the post at the far side. But the Sailors did not have to wait long to double their lead. A minute later, Zizkovic played a one-two with Shawal, with the Curacao international player ending it with a curler into the back of the net.

Zizkovic earned a spot in the AFC Champions League Matchday Four Team of The Round with his two-goal feat in the match. With the results, The Sailors are in third place, tied on six points with second place Jeonbok. Although Bangkok United were held to a 1-1 draw by bottom-place Kitchee United, they remained at the top of the group with ten points. Sailors will next take on Bangkok at the Thammasat Stadium on Nov 29 before hosting Kitchee in their final group match on Dec 13.

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Photo: Facebook screengrab / AFCCup

Hougang remained rooted to the bottom of Group H in the AFC Cup after their 3-1 defeat to Indonesian club Makassar. The Cheetahs managed to hold off the visitors to a goalless draw at halftime, demonstrating their defensive resilience. Despite scoring the first goal of the match in the second half, through Dorde Maksimovic three minutes after the restart, they could not build on it, and their defense crumbled soon after. Makassar responded decisively, scoring three goals of their own to secure the three points. Hougang’s Abdil Qaiyyim scored an unfortunate own goal in the 54th minute, while Safrudin Tahar and Everton Mendoca added a goal each for the Indonesian club in the 71st and 90th minutes, respectively.

Hougang is currently on three points after four matches and will next welcome group leader Sabah to the Jalan Besar Stadium on Nov 30. They will travel to the Lach Tray Stadium in Vietnam for their final Group H match against Haiphong on Dec 14.