Team of the Week Round 15
The title race really heated up this week as leaders Brunei DPMM went down to a second successive loss, this time at the hands of SAFFC. Coupled with Tampines Rovers’ win over Balestier Khalsa, this means that the Stags have now pulled level on points with the Bruneians at the top of the table. Home United and Albirex both also notched wins to sit just two points behind the top two, while Geylang United and Woodlands Wellington cancelled out each other in a 1-1 stalemate.
With regular number one Lionel Lewis being pulled out of the starting line-up at the eleventh hour due to an ankle problem sustained in the pre-match warm-up, substitute Nazri Sabri had to step in against Gombak. The ex-Geylang man performed admirably in his first match of the season, as Home came back from a goal down to win the game and put the pressure on the league leaders.
Despite being on the losing side, Ismail Yunos gave his all for the Bulls in defence. The Gombak right-back was solid and dependable as ever, closing down the Protectors well on the left side and was unlucky to end the match in defeat.
His team-mate Mustaqim Manzur would also have felt aggrieved after opening the scoring with a clinical strike. The winger, who was a constant threat throughout, must have had a sense of deja-vu as he was also on target in the reverse fixture earlier this season, although at least his team got a draw back then.
SAFFC became the first team to defeat Brunei DPMM at the Hassanal Bolkiah Stadium this season, thanks in no small part to the heroics of centreback Marin Vidosevic. The new Croatian signing, playing in just his second game for the Warriors, was a rock at the back alongside Daniel Bennett as he helped to repel a spirited DPMM rally as they hung on for a 2-1 victory.
Masatake Sato was undoubtedly the key factor in Albirex’s 2-0 win over Tanjong Pagar. The Japanese midfielder curled in a beautiful freekick to give his side the lead, before another freekick delivery found Kunihiro Yamashita who easily headed in a second goal. His set-piece prowess proved to be the difference between the two sides, as the White Swans eased to victory.
While the Jaguars found the going tough, the performance of debutant Gilbert Bayonne was one of the few positives coach Terry Pathmanathan could take from the loss. The giant striker was a constant physical presence upfront, although it is crucial that the former New York Red Bulls academy player is afforded more support in attack if they are to get the best out of him.
Deployed in an unfamiliar defensive midfield role against Woodlands, Jozef Kaplan adapted well as Geylang coach V. Kanan experimented with a line-up that saw midfielders in full-back positions and strikers playing in the middle of the park. The Slovakian had to curb his attacking instincts, but was disciplined enough to sit back and tidy up in midfield, while also slotting home a penalty to equalise for his side in the 1-1 draw.
Meanwhile, Moon Soon Ho certainly did not hold back in attacking terms, as the Woodlands striker was easily the stand-out player for his team. The Korean was a constant threat upfront with his intelligent movement and dribbling and although he did not get on the scoresheet, he set up the Rams’ equaliser with a delightful flick to strike partner Hussein Akil.
Ahmad Latiff and Sead Hadzibulic were both star performers as Tampines ran out 3-1 winners against a tough Balestier Khalsa side.
The former pulled the strings from midfield in a playmaking role as he controlled the game and had a hand in his side’s third goal when he beat two men on the right before producing an accurate cross for Hadzibulic to seal victory with a header. The striker had himself bagged his first goal since signing for the club with a simple finish from close range after just three minutes, and the brace was just reward for an excellent performance upfront alongside Aleksandar Duric.
For masterminding his side’s away victory against the league leaders, a first for any S-League club this season, Richard Bok is our pick for Coach of the Week.
He managed to stabilize a defence which had conceded four times in their previous game and got his tactical cards right on an intimidating venue to play at, which hopefully signals better things to come for the Warriors as they attempt to climb up the table.
Team of the week (3-4-3):
Goalkeeper: Nazri Sabri (Home)
Defender: Marin Vidosevic (SAFFC)
Defender: Daniel Bennett (SAFFC)
Defender: Ismail Yunos (Gombak)
Midfielder: Mustaqim Mansur (Gombak)
Midfielder: Jozef Kaplan (Geylang)
Midfielder: Masatake Sato (Albirex)
Midfielder: Ahmad Latiff (Tampines)
Forward: Sead Hadzibulic (Tampines)
Forward: Moon Soon Ho (Woodlands)
Forward: Gilbert Bayonne (Tanjong Pagar)
Coach: Richard Bok (SAFFC)
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