Harimau Muda 2 (Gary Robbat(pen) 57’,Affize Faisal(pen) 70’)
Woodlands Wellington 1 (Moon Soon-Ho(pen) 23’)
Photo courtesy of FAS
Four penalties, two in each half, of which three were scored. Rarely would a game get three penalties, with all three scored by different players. That was what happened in the match between Harimau Muda and Woodlands Wellington, where Goh Swee Swee was sent off for two bookable offences after conceding two penalties.
The game could have gone either way and it could have been easily dubbed the Ahmadulhaq Che Omar show. The Woodlands Wellington custodian was in inspired form, saving tons of shots from the Malaysian U23 side’s attackers, while even managing to save a penalty.
It was The Rams who started the match as the brighter of the two side, with Moon Soon-Ho’s freekick from the edge of the box going narrowly wide on the ninth minute.
Just a few minutes later, Shamsurin played a great ball to the Korean but Moon’s first touch was poor and an one-on-one situation goes to a waste. A quick break down the other end moments later saw star winger Wan Zack Haikal getting the ball down the right side of the box and his powerful shot drew a great save out of Ahmadulhaq Che Omar. The rebound found its way to him to set him up for another chance, but he screwed his left foot shot wide.
Woodlands had yet another chance minutes later when Farizal Basri played a through pass to Moon and was brought down by Fadhil Shas just outside the box. From the freekick, Daniel Hammond’s low shot was blocked by the wall. The rebound fell to Armanizam Dolah and the Woodlands’ midfielder curled a shot in, drawing a great diving save by Harimau Muda’s Izham Tarmizi.
With the ball loose, Moon was the quickest to react, getting a touch to the ball before Izham could and the goalkeeper had no choice but to bring him down, gifting a penalty to the away side. Up stepped Moon and he made no mistakes slotting the ball home.
Woodlands could have got another goal two minutes later, when Shamsurin found Farizal Basri with yet another great ball. Farizal though, perhaps a little short on confidence, took too long, allowing the recovering Affize Faisal to apply pressure and he screwed his shot wide.
Five minutes later, Farizal had yet another great chance after getting released down the left flank, but yet again, his finishing left a lot to be desired, as his shot found the side netting instead.
From then on, it was all Harimau Muda and Ahmadulhaq Che Omar. With Woodlands seemingly content to defend a one goal lead, the Young Tigers applied heavy pressure on the away side’s defence.
The pressure paid off when Ahmad Hazwan was brought down by Edward Tan for the first of three penalties awarded to the home side. Up stepped Wan Zack Haikal, but Ahmadulhaq was able to guess correctly, saving the penalty at full stretch.
Harimau Muda started the second half in the same fashion and ten minutes after the restart, they got another penalty. Gary Robbat, playing in a more advanced role than usual, made a great run into the box and was brought down by Goh Swee Swee, with very little contact made.
This time, Gary Robbat took the penalty and made no mistakes, putting the ball into the top corner which left Che Omar with absolutely no chance to save.
Harimau Muda continued their onslaught, but they could not find a way past Che Omar, who made save after saves, while the trio of Hammond, Lewis and Edward Tan continued to clear crosses after crosses.
Their resistance was finally broken for the second time, when they conceded a third penalty. Wan Zack Haikal, danced around several players inside the box before Goh Swee Swee stucked out his leg to bring Wan Zack down. Goh Swee Swee duly earned a second yellow for that naïve challenge, leaving his colleagues with a numerical disadvantage to finish the game.
Affize Faisal made no mistake from the spot, although Ahmadulhaq Che Omar could count himself a little unlucky as the ball went into the net just behind him.
With a 2-1 lead, Harimau Muda took the pedal off and slowed down the pace of their game. Apart from a couple of half chances from outside the box, they never threatened again. The same could be said for Woodlands Wellington, as they just could not find a way to unlock the Harimau Muda defence despite playing with a 3-4-2 formation.
Woodlands came into the game with a 3-5-2 formation, with wingers Goh Swee Swee and Guntur Djafril operating as wingbacks. Salim Moin set up his side to pack the middle, denying the space for Wan Zack Haikal and Syahrul Azwari to cut in from the wings, while making sure Nazmi Faiz did not have the space to operate.
That worked a treat, even though Wan Zack managed to get the better of Guntur down the right wing a couple of times, his cross was usually cut out by the trio of Centrebacks. When Duncan Elias came on for Guntur, Wan Zack had to switch over to the left wing and makeshift right wingback Goh Swee Swee’s defending weakness was exposed. Goh however, had a good first half against Syahrul Azwari, which was exemplified when Harimau Muda head coach Ong Kim Swee had to move Syahrul upfront midway through the first forty five.
Harimau Muda head coach Ong Kim Swee believed the maturity of his young boys paid off, as they stayed patient when things were not going their way.
Ong said, “Overall, the patient that my boys have in the second half got us two penalties. It is my first experience where four penalties have been awarded in this game and it happens sometimes. Most importantly we got the valuable three points.”
“Definitely we don’t start very well in the first ten to fifteen minutes, but after that we controlled the game.”
He also paid tribute to Woodland’s performance, saying, “Credit to Woodlands, where they defended very well and the goalkeeper made very good saves in the game.”
Woodlands Wellington assistant coach Clement Teo felt his team had put in a good performance despite the loss.
Teo said, “It was a team performance, we are very happy with the way we played, I think it only shows teamwork plays a very big part.”
He put Farizal Basri’s glaring misses down to “one of those days”, while refusing to blame him for the loss. He also praised Ahmadulhaq Che Omar for his outstanding performance in goal, using the words
“Great Job” and “fantastic”.
“He did very well, full praise. We are very happy with his performance,” he added.
Harimau Muda will next play Balestier Khalsa at Toa Payoh Stadium at Thursday, 20th April, while Woodlands Wellington will play Brunei DPMM at Hassanal Bolkiah Stadium on 27th April.
Harimau Muda: Izham Tarmizi(GK), Affize Faisal (C), Fadhli Shas, Nazmi Faiz, Ferris Danial (Wan Zaharulnizam 40’), Gary Robbat, Nazirul Naim, Amer Saidin, Wan Zack Haikal (Mahalli Jasuli 63’), Syahrul Azwari, Ahmad Hazwan. Unused subs: Farhan Abu Bakar, D Saarvindran, Thamil Arasu, Shahrul Saad, Izuan Salahuddin.
Woodlands Wellington: Ahmadulhaq Che Omar(GK), Fabien Lewis, Daniel Hammond(C), Armanizam Dolah, Guntur Djafril (Duncan Elias 67’), Han Yi Guang, Goh Swee Swee, Moon Soon Ho, Shamsurin Rahman, Edward Tan, Farizal Basri (Andy Ahmad 68’) Unused subs: Duncan Elias, K Sathiaraj, Aloysius Yap, Ang Bang Heng, Vincent Lee, Oswind Suriya.
Yellow cards: Fadhil Shas, Amer Saidin, Wan Zack Haikal (Harimau Muda) Armanizam Dolah, Goh Swee Swee(2) (Woodlands Wellington)
Red cards: Goh Swee Swee (Woodlands Wellington)