Warriors made to work for three points
Goals at the end of either half from Hafiz Rahim and Jonathan Behe sent the nine-time champions Warriors on their way to victory.
However, they could have won by a much bigger scoreline, as coach Jorg Steinebrunner noted at the end of the game.
“It’s always good to get the first win … Today it finally happened, but we made hard work out of it,” the German said.
“Six, seven chances, I think twice the goalkeeper made a great save... [The goal] came in the end, it was a scrappy goal but it’s more than what we deserved… one or two chances I wished the players would have been more composed in front of goal.”
The Warriors should be relieved by the result, as they displayed the same kind of profligacy in their last game and suffered a 3-1 defeat to Brunei DPMM as a result.
Warriors had the first chance of note when Hafiz Nor found Nikola Rak free inside the area just two minutes in. However, debutant goalkeeper Benjamin Bertrand managed to palm it out.
Hafiz Rahim then headed wide from a Shaiful Esah cross, before Adam Swandi forced Yazid into a fine save with a volley from the edge of the area down the other end.
Both Shaiful and Hafiz Rahim combined well once again minutes later, but the forward could only poke his shot into the side netting before Shaiful fired over from the edge minutes later.
Hafiz Rahim was presented with yet another chance in the 18th minute after Hafiz Nor got into the box, yet he fired wide.
Warriors continued to create chance after chance, but they just could not hit the mark. When they did, they were denied by Bertrand, who saved with his legs in the 34th minute to stop a Fukuda header, before pulling off a flying save to deny Jonathan Behe.
But there was to be no stopping the hosts, who broke the deadlock through Hafiz Rahim’s sixth attempt of the game on the stroke of half-time.
A corner from Rak was not dealt with by the Young Lions defence, and it eventually fell for Hafiz Rahim to convert from point-blank range.
The game continued in the same vein after the restart, as Warriors wasted more chances.
Jonathan Behe had a glorious chance to extend the hosts’ lead after reacting first to the rebound from Hafiz Nor’s powerful shot, but he failed to get a clean connection with the ball and Bertrand was able to save in the 57th minute.
A minute later, the striker headed tamely at Bertrand after Shaiful set him up perfectly, before he sent a wild volley into oblivion.
Fukuda then saw a header crashing against the crossbar in the 67th minute.
The Young Lions slowly imposed themselves in the game and could have levelled matters, but Hami’s shot was tipped wide by Yazid.
Warriors finally secured the win, two minutes into injury time.
Substitute Fazli Jaffar raced half the length of the pitch down the left before sending in a low cross which the otherwise excellent Bertrand failed to stop, and Behe bundled the ball in from close range.
Young Lions coach Patrick Hesse admitted that his side’s defensive shortcomings cost the team once more.
“We tend to concede in the worst moments of the game,” Hesse stated.
“During the game I told the players not to take risks, but we took the risks and they (Warriors) scored just before half-time.
“It was a very important moment in the game. Also, we gave a lot of corners that we could not challenge… for the moment, they are not mature enough.”
Hesse also pointed out that Bertrand saved his side from further embarrassments, although he noted that Behe had “one of his worst games”.
On the other hand, Steinebrunner believes that his attackers will come good eventually.
“It’s about the game isn’t it? If after five minutes the striker scores, you get more confidence. But if a striker misses two or three chances without scoring, his confidence goes down,” he said.
“If you look at Jonathan today, it’s a scrappy goal [at the end], but he scored. He will gain confidence in the end.”
Photo by: S.League