DPMM FC 0
SAFFC 2 (Fazrul Nawaz 29’, Aliff Shafaein 90’)
A goal apiece from Fazrul Nawaz and Aliff Shafaein was enough to earn Singapore Armed Forces a well-deserved 2-0 win and top Group A of the 2012 StarHub League Cup.
While the Warriors might have played out a dominating game, there was no doubt that the victory was secured largely due to the brilliant performance of goalkeeping coach/player Rezal Hassan, who rolled back the years on the night.
It was DPMM who had a quicker start with Basiru Osman having an early opportunity to open the scoring just inside three minutes. Finding himself through on goal in a one-on-one situation with Rezal, Osman somehow managed to chip the ball over the crossbar when a less sophisticated finish would perhaps break the deadlock.
The Warriors then slowly took charge after ten minutes with their midfield five of Ruzaini Zainal, Shukor Zailan, Shimpei Sakurada, Aliff Shafaein and Prime League player Marin Jonjic, who had just opened his account for the club last week, controlling possession.
They had a good chance in the twentieth minute, when Shukor’s freekick was deflected out to centreback Marin Vidosevic, and the Croat unselfishly laid the ball for Aliff, but the playmaker uncharacteristically blasted the ball way over.
Seven minutes later, Fazrul Nawaz stole ahead of Tales Dos Santos to meet a long punt before racing clear past Subhi Abdilah, but his shot was too weak to cause any trouble for Wardun Yussoff. He was not to be denied two minutes later however, after Ruzaini Zainal’s pintpoint left footed cross found him unmarked, allowing him to direct his header into the back of the net.
Things threatened to get worse for the Wasps a further three minutes later, but Shukor Zailan’s wicked attempt from thirty five yards out just swerved wide of the top corner, fortunately for the home side.
The second half started with DPMM having two quick tries at the Warriors goal, but both times, Rezal produced fantastic saves to deny first Shahrazen Said and then former Warrior Ivan Jerokovic. That though, did not represent in a change of momentum as SAFFC continued to pressure their opponents and earned a penalty through Aliff in the fiftieth minute.
Brought down by Wardun inside the box, the goalkeeper atoned for his mistake by making a great save to parry away Shukor’s spot kick.
Sensing perhaps a chance to seize on that squandered chance, DPMM started playing their usual football, as the action started to go from end to end. While they may have gotten past the static and tiring Warriors’ defence, they were denied time and time again by the superb Rezal, much to the frustration of their coach Vejran Simunic.
The nail in the coffin came in injury time, when Aliff Shafaein scored on the break. The veteran goalkeeper had a hand in it too, as his quick distribution started the move, which resulted in Shukor finding Fazrul speeding down the right before cutting the ball back towards the unmarked Aliff at the far post to finish into the near empty net.
Speaking after the game, Simunic cut an unhappy figure, puzzled at how his team could not score. He said, “The best player on the pitch was the goalkeeper coach (Rezal Hassan). Everything worked for us, except for scoring. We played very well; the only thing is why we could not score excellent chances.”
When asked what words he would have for his charges in the dressing room, he replied, “I have nothing else to say to my players but bravo, and we will have to look forward to the next game against Home United.”
SAFFC head coach Richard Bok felt that his team played a great game, although they should have wrapped up the game earlier than they did. “I thought we had a good first half. We played some nice flowing football, and I thought we should have killed them off with the penalty,” said Bok. “Unfortunately we didn’t score, and gave them some chances to come back.
“I thought we dealt with the pressure well. It was a good game and we did well defensively. To top the group and be able to play the quarter finals in Choa Chu Kang is good for us,” he added.
When asked to comment on the performance of Rezal Hassan, he praised his goalkeeper to no ends. “You could see for yourself, the experience showed. (He had) good commanding presence, plucked all the balls from the air, and (made) some crucial saves after the missed penalty; you could say he is the man of the match,” Bok said.
SAFFC will face Hougang United, the runners up in Group C on Saturday, 4th August 2012 at Choa Chu Kang Stadium while DPMM will face Group C winners Home United at the Bishan Stadium on the same day.
Yellow cards: Shahrazen Said, Tales Dos Santos (DPMM) Eddie Chang, Razaleigh Khalik, Marin Vidosevic (SAFFC)
DPMM: Wardun Yussof (GK), Sairol Sahari, Tales Dos Santos, Pg Sallehuddin Damit (Adi Said 61’), Azwan Saleh (Shahrulrizal Abd Rahman 46’), Ivan Jerkovic, Patrick Da Silva, Rosmin Kamis(C), Subhi Abdilah, Basiru Osman, Shahrazen Said (Helmi Zambin 73’). Unused subs: Awangku Fakharazzi, Ampuan Nurul Azami, Abdulaziz Tamit, Fakrul Zulhazmi.
SAFFC: Rezal Hassan (GK), Zulfadli Zainal Abidin (Noh Rahman 57’), Shimpei Sakurada, Fazrul Nawaz, Marin Vidosevic, Ruzaini Zainal (Hafsyar Farkhan 76’), Shukor Zailan, Daniel Bennett(C), Aliff Shafaein, Eddie Chang (Razaleigh Khalik 52’). Unused subs: Erwan Gunawan, Shahril Jantan, Matthew Abraham, Prakash Manikam.