Team of the Week - S.League Rd 7
It was a week which offered plenty, both in terms of goals as well as excitement. Surprise packages Hougang United thought they had the game all wrapped up against Geylang, before a late Leonel Felize-led blitz brought them back down to earth. Brunei DPMM followed up a 6-1 win over the Young Lions with another development team beatdown, putting five unanswered goals past Harimau Muda. So who stood out in Round 7? The FourFourTwo Singapore writers have come up with a selection.
While two goalkeepers kept clean sheets this week, neither was selected to be the man between the posts. Brunei DPMM FC’s Wardun Yusoff and Shahril Jantan of Home United were untroubled against ineffective attacks in their respective matches.
Instead, Tanjong Pagar United custodian Aurelien Herisson earms the nod for his star turn in helping his side earn a precious point against Warriors FC. The Frenchman almost single-handedly kept the visitors at bay for much of the match with his shot-stopping capabilities. He was eventually beaten by a late Miroslav Pejic equaliser minutes from time, but was not at fault after doing what he could to preserve the Jaguars’ lead.
Tampines Rovers shot-stopper Hyrulnizam Juma’at was also impressive as he kept Balestier Khalsa at bay in the rain-interrupted encounter with some vital saves to preserve his side’s advantage. His job was helped by a sterling effort from his outfield colleagues who chipped in to ensure the defending champions remain on top ahead of the chasing pack.
We love defenders who not only shut out opposing attacks, but also cause problems during their forays forward. Step forward, DPMM left-back Sairol Sahari and Home United's versatile defender Ismail Yunos for their impressive contributions at both ends.
With Harimau Muda B offering little resistance, the seasoned Bruneian defender showed them how it was done as he pounced on the loose ball inside the box to fire home his side’s second goal in their five-goal rout without reply.
Meanwhile, Ismail kept Woodlands Wellington attackers Moon Soon Ho and Chang Jo Yoon under the cosh in his watch on either flank. The Singapore international also contributed at the other end when he tapped home from yards out after Rams custodian Yazid Yasin could only parry Lee Kwan-Woo’s low free kick onto his path.
While his teammate Sirina Camara contributed little up front, he was a colossus at his centre-back role as he made several interceptions to cut out potentially dangerous attacks before the hosts could trouble Shahril in goal.
In what was admittedly not his preferred nor strongest position, Tanjong Pagar makeshift right-back Masrezwan Masturi also deserves a mention after a good outing in defence, venturing forward to set up a cross for Sebestien Etimeble to head home early in the game.
Last but not least, another solid outing for Albirex Niigata (Singapore) skipper and left-back Itsuki Yamada means he just misses out as he commanded his defence and helped them maintain their defensive shape against the Courts Young Lions.
Keisuke Ota was the chief tormentor for Albirex down the right as he made the most out of Courts Young Lions coach Aide Iskandar’s unorthodox decision to field Sherif El-Masri as left back. (Young Lions, when are you ever going to have a performance worthy of us picking one of you into the eleven?)
Also wreaking havoc down the wings was Tampines Rovers midfielder Luis Closa. He had an excellent all-round outing in a rain-interrupted 3-1 win over Balestier. The Paraguyan winger set up his team’s first goal with a delivery that was headed home by Noh Alam Shah and scored the next two himself. The first was a 25-yard grounder from a clearance by Balestier skipper Paul Cunningham and the second came after he eluded the New Zealander to find space and score inside the box.
His colleague Fahrudin Mustafic was imperious in both attack and defence as he laid the foundations for his team’s victory. Initially starting out as part of his team’s back three, he ventured into midfield to quell dangerous-looking Balestier raids and also ignited many of his team’s attacks from his position.
Home United’s Izzdin Shafiq continued his impressive form this season with an effective display in centre midfield, capped with a peach of a goal. Dominating the middle of the park with his distribution, it was his stunning effort from outside the box that led to the second goal late in the match and ensured the Protectors’ three points were never in doubt.
Completing the centre midfield trio is Geylang International’s Fabian Kwok. Starting his first game since recovering from a knee injury, his determination was the pivotal point in the Eagles’ late come-from-behind win over Hougang United. It was his cross from deep that set up his colleague Leonel Felice for the injury-time winner that sealed three points for Jorg Steinebrunner’s men.
DPMM wide man Azwan Ali Rahman also continued his standout season against Harimau as he made the left midfield slot his own. Causing problems on his flank, he settled the crowd’s nerves by scoring the first goal to put his side on the way to another big victory.
In that same match, a second brace in as many games has propelled DPMM striker Roy O’Donovan into the team this time. His positioning and clinical finishing inside the box were vital as he pushed his name among the leaders in the goal scoring charts. Fellow strike partner Rodrigo Tosi had yet another fine outing up front, this time with a goal off a free kick routine that left the Malaysians rooted to their positions.
Joining O’Donovan up front is another brace hero Leonel Felice of Geylang. On his day, the Argentinean has the know-how to destroy defences. He did so in devastating fashion, including the dramatic winner with virtually the last kick of the game. Hougang United striker Geison Moura had another productive outing, netting the first goal to put the Cheetahs up and well onto their way towards victory - until the Felice show took over that was.
Elsewhere, Home United's Japanese-Brazilian forward Bruno Castanheira was in good form, teasing the Woodlands full backs with his dribbling and close control from either flank and scoring the third goal to seal three points as his side hauled themselves back to the top half of the table.
SEE ALSO FFT S.League Takeaway - Round 7