Team of the Week - S.League Rd 10
Courts Young Lions custodian Syazwan Buhari played an instrumental role in his team’s 3-0 victory at Hougang United on Friday as he shut out desperate attacks from the hosts with a string of fine stops to preserve their advantage – and three points – at the final whistle. It was the best of the three shutouts the league witnessed last week, as the young goalkeeper had to put in an immense effort to ensure Aide Iskandar’s boys earned their first clean sheet of the season.
Coming close was Warriors goalkeeper Hassan Sunny, who impressed between the posts despite his team crashing to their worst defeat of the season in their 1-4 pasting by uniformed rivals Home United on the same evening at Jalan Besar Stadium. Those who witnessed the game would have noticed how the Singapore international almost single-handedly kept his side in contention until his outfield colleagues buckled under incessant pressure from the Protectors in the final half-hour.
A versatile defender who is capable of marking inside his own area and creating havoc at the other end is a coach’s dream and an opponent’s nightmare. Starting the match at centre-back, Home United’s Sirina Camara contributed in silencing the usually potent Warriors foreign strike partnership of Nicolas Velez and Miroslav Pejic. Throw in his trademark raids down the left – a common feature in Home’s attacking play this season and you see why he's so valuable to the team. One such move saw him lay the ball up for Indra Sahdan Daud to net the final goal in their uniformed derby victory.
Young Lions defender Al-Qaasimy Rahman played the perfect captain’s role as he marshalled his backline to frustrate the Hougang forwards. Usually positioned at right-back, the skipper forged a solid central defensive pairing with Delwinder Singh to keep things tight with his no-nonsense tackling and positioning, playing his part to instill confidence in a mentally-fragile side for their best performance this year.
Another defender who was the bane of the Tanjong Pagar attacking line-up was Geylang International centre-back Kento Fukuda. The Japanese defender made vital interceptions inside his box to prevent any potential dangerous pass or cross from reaching another yellow-and-black shirt before further damage could be done.
And who wouldn’t love a free-scoring defender? Step forward Fukuda’s former club colleague Shuhei Hotta as he completes the quartet. Using his height to his advantage, the Albirex Niigata (Singapore) midfielder-turned-defender netted his third goal of the season at the near post off a corner to put his side ahead early in the game before Tampines Rovers forced a stalemate late on.
Azwan Ali Rahman is fast turning into the Bruneian sensation of the year as he continued his breakthrough season with yet another goal late in the first half to seal his side’s 2-0 win over Woodlands Wellington. Before he was stretchered off late in the second half following a nasty tackle, he was causing some problems for Woodlands right-back Andy Ahmad with his dribbles down the left.
Tanjong Pagar United midfielder Ruzaini Zainal earned his place with an all-round quality performance in the middle of the park, capped with a fine volley off a Tengku Mushadad free kick early in their match against Geylang. While his side failed to earn three points at the final whistle, his high work rate and goal ensured the Jaguars did not leave Bedok Stadium empty-handed.
His colleague Firdaus Idros also had a solid display in wide midfield as he probed question on Jorg Steinebrunner’s defence with his runs down either flank. Placing himself in sound attacking positions, he often stretched the defensive capabilities of the opponents to their limit.
Rounding up the midfield trio is Young Lions’ Shamil Shariff, who provided the assist for Jordan Webb's goal against Hougang. The young midfielder utilised his experience to pull the strings and provide the bridge between defence and attack as his all-round display laid the foundations for a solid triumph.
Showing impressive form since passing the mandatory fitness run a few weeks ago was Young Lions sharpshooter Sahil Suhaimi. He was one of the main driving forces behind the most impressive result of the week as he netted a brace on either side of half-time. While his hot-headedness cost him a straight red, his positive contribution in the final third could not be ignored.
While the young hotshot was scintillating at Hougang, a seasoned veteran rolled back the years with a brace of his own on the same evening at Jalan Besar. Step forward Indra Sahdan Daud of Home United. Given a rare start as the second striker behind targetman Fazrul Nawaz, the 34-year-old showed his predatory instincts after the break with two well-taken goals inside the box to kill off any resistance the Warriors were putting up against the marauding Home.
S.League top-scorer Rodrigo Tosi made an early impact against Woodlands as he earned a penalty following an off-the-ball incident inside the box that had Walid Lounis sent off. Having stepped up to score his 10th goal of the season, he retained his influence in the final third, causing problems to the massed Woodlands defence with his playmaking ability and contributing to league leaders DPMM’s routine 2-0 win.
Argentine striker Leonel Felice was also at the right place at the right time as his headed equaliser in the second half ensured Geylang retain their unique league unbeaten home record against Tanjong Pagar at Bedok Stadium since the league’s inception in 1996.