Team of the week Round 14
S-League action finally resumed after a mid-season break and things got interesting at the head of the table, as Brunei DPMM succumbed to a 1-0 loss at Tampines to see their lead trimmed to three points. Home United failed to take advantage of that result, as they crashed to a surprise 1-0 defeat at Balestier, while the game of the week was between SAFFC and Albirex Niigata, where a see-saw game was won 4-3 at the death by the Japanese side.
He may have conceded three goals against SAFFC, but Takuma Ito was in inspired form. The Albirex custodian made several great saves to keep the scores level at 1-1 at half-time and while he could not have done anything about the three goals, SAFFC would have sewn the game up by the end of the first forty-five minutes if it wasn’t for him.
The win would also not have been possible without the heroics of Yasuhiro Yamakoshi. The striker may have started the game on the bench, but there was no doubt that he ended it as the man-of-the-match. He scored a brilliant effort from a tight angle to make it 3-3, before providing the cross that led to Atsushi Shimono’s winner right at the death.
His counterpart Mislav Karoglan could not be faulted for a lack of effort, as last season’s top-scorer struck a brace to put his side in the lead both times before they capitulated defensively. The SAFFC hitman produced two clinical finishes, demonstrating why some supporters rate him as the top striker in the league.
Balestier centreback Paul Cunningham was instrumental in his team’s upset win against Home United, as he combined with the returning Goran Subara to great effect in defence. Shutting out dangerman Frederic Mendy completely, the Tigers’ skipper gave a masterclass in defending by dominating both in the air and on the ground. Also a massive threat at set-pieces, he headed one corner against the post and saw another effort hacked off the line, and has firmly established himself as one of the best defenders in the league.
Helping to make his captain’s job easier was Shafuan Sutohmoh, who made his debut for Balestier in the same game. The defensive midfielder turned in a solid performance, breaking up play and screening the back four well and the assured outing was a good start to his new club career.
Another man who caught the eye in central midfield was Gligor Gligorov, who held his own against Ivan Jerkovic and Rosmin Kamis in Tampines’ win over DPMM. The ex-Macedonian international put in a hardworking shift and made good attacking runs into the box throughout the game, one of which led to him scoring a last-gasp winner.
Playing at left wingback, team-mate Ismadi Mukhtar also impressed with a determined display. Roving up and down the flank all night, he was ever-present both in attack and defence and dominated the left side throughout.
Tanjong Pagar’s streak of 1-0 wins might have been snapped, but Hafiz Osman was certainly not to be blamed. Tenacious in his tackles, the former SAFFC defender did everything he could to thwart the Hougang United attacks and even played as a makeshift striker after Takaya Kawanabe’s sending off in the dying minutes.
Courts Young Lions leapt to eight spot after a come-from-behind 2-1 win against Woodlands Wellington, thanks to their trio of midfielders. Sherif El-Masri was at his usual best, linking up well with Nike’s The Chance regional winner Faris Ramli and provided the cross for the latter’s winning goal, as both of them proved too much for their opponents to handle.
The equalising goal of that match came from substitute Nazrul Ahmad Nazari, who made his first appearance of the season. His introduction injected some much needed pace to a lacklustre attack and that was what got him the goal, as he sped past Duncan Elias to meet teammate Sirina Camara’s cross and side-foot home.
Taking his place in the dugout this week is Courts Young Lions head coach Robin Chitrakar. His use of substitutions, particularly the introduction of Nazrul Nazari, helped to swing the tide in his team’s favour. Also, his decision to move Sirina Camara to left back in the second half proved crucial too, as Camara provided the assist for the equalising goal when he rampaged down the left. For his spot-on tactical nous, Robin deservedly takes the spot for our Coach of the Week.
Team of the week (3-5-2):
Goalkeeper: Takuma Ito (Albirex)
Defender: Hafiz Osman (Tanjong Pagar)
Defender: Paul Cunningham (Balestier)
Defender: Ismadi Muhktar (Tampines)
Midfielder: Nazrul Ahmad Nazari (Young Lions)
Midfielder: Gligor Gligorov (Tampines)
Midfielder: Faris Ramli (Young Lions)
Midfielder: Sherif El-Masri (Young Lions)
Midfielder: Shafuan Sutohmoh (Balestier)
Forward: Mislav Karoglan (SAFFC)
Forward: Yasuhiro Yamakoshi (Albirex)
Coach: Robin Chitrakar (Young Lions)