The second round of the 2012 S-League season has been an interesting one, as the traditional “Big Three” of Home United, SAFFC and Tampines are still win-less so far. Meanwhile, Japanese outfit Albirex have continued to impress with two wins in as many games, along with last season’s bottom dwellers Woodlands, who surprisingly sit joint-top with them.
Gombak became the second team this season to take a point at Bishan Stadium, as they held Home to a 1-1 draw. Goalkeeper Zaiful Nizam was in superb form, as he repelled almost everything that the home side threw at him, although he could not prevent Franklin Anzite from netting a late leveller.
Centrebacks Goran Subara and Paul Cunningham were in superb form for Balestier Khalsa, as they recorded an upset 1-0 win over defending champions Tampines Rovers. They conspired to render evergreen forward Aleksandar Duric to a mere passenger, while Subara even managed to get forward and assist Ruhaizad Ismail for the winning goal. Joining them in defence is Tales dos Santos as his Brunei DPMM side beat SAFFC 2-1. The Brazilian journeyman was playing only his second game for the club, but was part of a watertight trio which kept last season’s top-scorer Mislav Karoglan quiet throughout.
Hougang comfortably outclassed the Young Lions, as new signing Ante Barac pulled the strings from midfield once again. His cultured left foot was always a threat, and he provided the corner from which fellow import Stanislav Vidakovic headed in a third in a 3-0 win. Wreaking havoc down the left was teammate Jordan Webb, as the livewire Canadian winger tormented his marker and managed to get on the scoresheet, and perhaps should have added a couple more.
Woodlands Wellington, the surprise package of the season so far, recorded a 3-1 win over Geylang United to notch up a second consecutive win. Attacking midfielder Hussein Akil was a threat all night with his defence-splitting passes, and got his first goal for the Rams by opening the scoring. Gombak winger Mustaqim Mansur impressed during his side’s draw with his off-the-ball movement, and capped off a solid game with a superb effort from range which swerved and dipped into the back of the net.
Mamadou Diallo didn’t trouble the scorers in his team’s win, but the Cheetahs looked much more dangerous in the attacking third with the return of the Guinean forward, who provided a bustling figure upfront. Ghanaian striker Basiru Osman was a thorn in the SAFFC defence with his constant hassling on the left of a three-man strike-force, and tapped in the opener in his team’s 2-1 win. Rounding off our trio of foreign attackers is Albirex’s Yasuhiro Yamakoshi, who came off the bench to give his team the lead, before blasting in a scorching freekick for a third, as his team climbed to the top of the table with a 4-1 drubbing of Tanjong Pagar.
Our man in the dugout this week definitely has to be Darren Stewart. The Australian coach proved that his team’s 0-0 draw at Bishan last week was no fluke, as he sprang a tactical masterclass on Tampines, to see his Balestier side earn a deserved and impressive win.
Team of the week (3-4-3):
Goalkeeper: Zaiful Nizam (Gombak)
Defender: Goran Subara (Balestier)
Defender: Paul Cunningham (Balestier)
Defender: Tales dos Santos (Brunei DPMM)
Midfielder: Jordan Webb (Hougang)
Midfielder: Ante Barac (Hougang)
Midfielder: Hussein Akil (Woodlands)
Midfielder: Mustaqim Mansur (Gombak)
Forward: Yasuhiro Yamakoshi (Albirex)
Forward: Basiru Osman (Brunei DPMM)
Forward: Mamadou Diallo (Hougang)
Coach: Darren Stewart (Balestier)