SAFFC Prime League 1 (Prakash Manikam 76’)
Balestier Khalsa Prime League 3 (Fahmi Ishak 4’, Helmi Mazlan 10’ Jahangir Noorullah (OG.) 31’)
It was the first Prime League game of the season for SAFFC, and perhaps a combination of lack of match fitness and first time jitters meant that Balestier took three points rather comfortably.
Balestier started the game in top gear and they breaking the deadlock in the fourth minute. A free-kick was awarded on the right side of the pitch, and up stepped Nur Asyidiq. Floating in a perfect cross, SAFFC defenders were in sixes and sevens and Fahmi Ishak took advantage of that, losing his marker and half volleyed the ball into the net. SAFFC’s custodian Zaniol Gulam was left with no chance at all.
Another similar situation ensued in the sixth minute, this time from the left side, but Asyidiq’s perfect ball was nodded just wide by lone striker Casteels Tzu-Ming, who was left unmarked by SAFFC defenders.
Balestier looked as though they would score with every set-piece they won, and true enough, their second goal came from another set-piece, via poor defending from SAFFC yet again. Unable to deal with a corner properly, the ball trickled to right-back Helmi Mazlan just outside the box. Balestier’s captain made no mistakes with a powerful shot that found its way into the net past the numerous bodies inside SAFFC’s penalty area.
The home side continued to dominate the game, with chances coming on a regular basis. However, poor finishing meant that they could not extend their lead, until a miscommunication under no pressure between Zaniol Gulam and right back Jahangir Noorullah on the thirty-first minute saw the latter putting the ball into his own net.
That goal clearly downed SAFFC’s morale, as they were looking as if they might find a way back into the game. Their best chance came right before the own goal when a wonderful cross from left winger Prakash found Hafsyar unmarked, but Balestier’s keeper Daniel Ong managed to dive down low quickly and save it.
SAFFC did not create any further chances, and went back into the dressing room three goals down.
The second period was a much changed story though, as SAFFC dominated proceedings. However, the visitors just could not find a way past Daniel Ong, or the post on one instance from a Nicholas Marc attempt from just outside the box, until Prakash produced a wonder goal.
With his back facing the goal, Prakash took the ball on the bounce, and unleashed an overhead kick. The ball lobbed over Daniel Ong, who came off his line, straight into the goal. It was a wonderful goal, but it meant nothing but only a consolation.
The game may have ended 3-1, but credit has to be given to SAFFC’s Zainol Gulam, Prakash and substitute Junaidy Salleh. Zainol kept the score down with a number of good saves, particularly in the second half, while both Prakash and Junaidy created a ton of chances for SAFFC’s front pairing.
Balestier on the other hand, benefitted from playing an extra game as the match fitness proved crucial. They were always first to the ball, and looked as though they had an extra spring in their step. The 3-1 score-line was probably justified, as they dominated the whole of first half, and parts of the second.
Balestier coach Kevin Wee lamented the fact that his players got complacent in the second half, and was thankful that SAFFC did not profited from it, saying, “In the second half, I think we took our foot off the paddle and it’s something I expected to happen as it happens to most teams. During the half-time talk, I only used one word – complacency - and reminded my players not to have it during the second half.” He also added that the team “did well to weather the storm 10 to 15 minutes after the restart.”
SAFFC coach V.Selvaraj thought inexperience played a part in the loss, but maintained that the result is not as important as the performance on the field. He said, “Of course it’s disappointing (to lose), but my boys are all new. In fact, most of them are drop outs from former clubs last year.” He also added that “some of them have not played in the Prime League before, but they are working very hard in training… They will only get better.” Selvaraj also mentioned that he’s looking to sign a few more players, as not all the slot are filled up yet.
SAFFC lineup: Zaniol Gulam(GK, C), Jahangir Noorullah, Shariff Shaik, Nurhisham Suhaimi, Nooruddeen Tajuddeen, Baby Josy (Junaidy Salleh 37’), Bharath Ravindren, Nicholas Marc, Prakash Manikam, Moawia Omer (Hakim Jumahat 71’), Hafsyar Farkhan.
BKFC lineup: Daniel Ong (GK), Helmi Mazlan (C), Yusiskandar Yusop (Basit Mansoor 82’), Nur Asyidiq, Jamilul Hadi, Ho Wai Loon (Haqim Abdul Rahman 88’), Haiqal Noor, Khairil Azalli, Fahmi Ishak, Andrew Tan (Suria Prakash 86’), Casteels Tzu-Ming.
Yellow cards: Baby Josy(SAFFC), Ho Wai Loon, Helmi Mazlan, Khairil Azalli, Jamilul Hadi, Fahmi Ishak(BKFC)