Eight outrageous S.League golazos to rival Khairul Nizam
For those of you who missed Nizam's effort in LionsXII's penultimate home game this Malaysia Super League season, here's a quick refresher. With three minutes to go and the Singaporean team's unbeaten home record under threat, they launched yet another attacking drive towards the Selangor goal.
Right back Faritz Hameed looked up, then played a searching cross into the box for an unmarked Nizam to leap acrobatically into the air and smash the ball past the despairing reach of the Red Giants' goalkeeper.
A wonderful goal indeed and a great way to make a statement after a prolonged goal drought. In fact, head coach Fandi Ahmad later said it was one of the best goals he had ever seen.
That got us thinking, surely we would have some goal of the year contenders in our local S.League, which started its own season back in March? Of course we do!
Here are some of the best, in no particular order. Which ones did you think were the stand-outs?
Ihata shoots for the heavens
S.League: Balestier Khalsa 0 Albirex Niigata S 1 (Ihata 16')
Jalan Besar Stadium, March 20
The pick of the goals in March came from Japanese striker Shotaro Ihata, who after stints with local clubs Home United and Geylang International returned to Albirex Niigata (Singapore). Balestier winger Ho Wai Loon was caught in possession near the touchline and there seemed to be little danger at first. The Tigers did not account for Ihata though, who was lurking 25 yards away from goal and unleashed an almighty swing at the ball as it came his way.
Goalkeeper Zaiful Nizam didn't stand a chance as the ball dipped perfectly, as though laser guided, under the crossbar and into the back of his net. Fitting, too, that it ended up being the only goal of the game. The Balestier players seemed stunned by the sheer audacity of the strike, ending the game having failed to register a single shot on target.
Fadhil's revenge: a dish best served cold
S.League: Albirex Niigata S 0 Balestier Khalsa 1 (Fadhil 9')
Jurong East Stadium, July 24
It's only fair that Balestier be allowed a right of reply and so it proved as the two teams met in their return fixture just over four months later. With just nine minutes on the clock, Fadhil Noh deceived two Albirex defenders with a cute stutter step, before gliding past them and firing off a howitzer of a shot from distance.
When the dust had cleared and the sonic boom dissipated, a dazed Yosuke Nozawa found the ball (slightly smoking) in the back of his net and Fadhil being mobbed by teammates in the distance. As you've guessed by now, this turned out to be the only goal of the game once again. The football gods, you see, they work in mysterious ways.
The two teams will meet again on October 18. Best keep your schedule free.
One for the memories
S.League: Hougang United 2 (Yamashita 2', Chupe 87') Brunei DPMM FC 3 (Sergio 14', 19', McLean 57')
Francisco "Chupe" Elá has had quite the nomadic career since his Real Madrid youth days, having turned out for 15 other clubs before popping up in Singapore as Hougang United's off-season signing. The Equatorial Guinea international took a while to find his feet, but produced this magical goal in a 3-2 loss to Bruneian outfit DPMM FC.
Stuck on the edge of the box and with a defender in close attendance, Chupe somehow managed to keep possession and make space for himself by dribbling away from goal.
Four defenders in your way now? No problem, said Chupe, as he chose the overhead route, letting fly with an exquisite effort that found the top corner of the DPMM goal. Not a bad consolation, if you're going to go down fighting.
Chupe is now looking for yet another new club, after being released by the Cheetahs in mid-season.
Do they teach that in the Bundesliga?
Singapore Cup: Warriors FC 1 (Ivancic 57') Home United 2 (Ilsø 55', 70')
Choa Chu Kang Stadium, August 12
FFT covered Ken Ilsø Larsen's career to date pretty extensively in our player feature earlier this year and it's no surprise that he's been winning over fans with his performances for the Protectors. Having played in Holland, Germany and China, the Danish striker's experiences seem to have stood him in good stead when adapting to the local league.
IIlsø has already scored five goals in the S.League, but his brace on this night was vital for Home United as they were reduced to nine men after two players were sent off. His first of the evening was a simple side-footed effort to put United ahead, but it was the second that had the fans on their feet.
Afforded plenty of space as he jogged up the left flank, IIlsø made use of Kamel Ramdani's overlapping run as a distraction to cut inside and then launch a long-range bomb at goal. The technique was exquisite and the resulting goal top drawer. Goalkeeper Daniel Ong was left on his back, with no answer to the Dane's quality.
Using your head
S.League: Balestier Khalsa 3 (Xu 20', Ang 24', Cmajcanin 58') Hougang United 2 (Lotinac 47' o.g, Yamashita 90')
Jalan Besar Stadium, August 7
August was certainly a good month for great goals, as Jonathan Xu ensured his first league goal of the season would be a memorable one.
As the Hougang defence inexplicably fell asleep, the midfielder found himself galloping clear and one-on-one with Ridhuan Barudin. With the goalkeeper advancing rapidly, the quick-thinking Xu chested the ball once to control it, then flicked it over a surprised Ridhuan to leave himself with the simple task of heading into an empty net.
Cool as a cucumber, that lad.
He's got a bit of ninja in him
S.League: Warriors FC 0 Albirex Niigata S 6 (Taki 20', Syaqir 34' o.g, Kawata 42', 45', Mizuno 49', Nagasaki 73')
Woodlands Stadium, March 15
S.League fans will certainly remember this game in Round 3, as Albirex Niigata exploded out of the blocks after losing their first two games and scoring a grand total of zero goals. With defending champions Warriors FC up next, few gave the Japanese imports any chance of winning. Silly us, as the gobsmacked Warriors were hit for six.
Atsushi Kawata scored two goals on the night to deservedly win man-of-the-match honours, but it was his second goal that really took the cake. Running away from goal and with Marin Vidosevic keeping a close brief, Kawata conjured up a moment of magic by flicking the ball behind both of them before twisting 180 degrees and zooming away.
The Warriors defender found himself two steps behind but really, what was the danger here? Surely his fellow defender Irwan Shah had it covered? Nope.
Kawata's audacious effort seemed to go one way at first, luring substitute goalkeeper Nur Amin Malik to his right before it changed direction and ended up in the other corner of the net. Magic, I tell you.
Bruno thanks his Brazilian genes
S.League: Geylang International 2 (Kaplan 51', Castanheira 90') Balestier Khalsa 2 (Pericic 10', 38')
Jalan Besar Stadium, May 15
There are last-gasp goals, there are last-gasp equalisers, and then there are last-gasp equalising wonder goals. Bruno Castanheira's effort for Geylang in May certainly fell into that last category.
With the Eagles staring down the barrel of defeat, the Japanese-Brazilian striker came up with the goods with virtually the last kick of the game. Standing in the opposition box with his back to goal and four defenders around him, Castanheira received a square pass from his teammate. With little time to think, he turned on a dime before curling the ball between two red shirts and into the far corner of the goal.
Watch it again. An inch either way and the despondent Geylang players would have been trudging off the field. That's real threading-the-needle stuff.
Signing off in style
S.League: Warriors FC 2 (Pejic 85', Vélez 88') Tampines Rovers 1 (Tosi 48')
Choa Chu Kang Stadium, August 7
Nicolás Vélez is heading to India after agreeing to join Indian Super League side NorthEast United, but he said goodbye in the best way possible. Playing his last home league game before the move, the reigning S.League young player of the year played his part in a magnificent come-from-behind win to beat rivals Tampines Rovers.
Rodrigo Tosi had earlier opened the scoring for the Stags and it looked good enough to get them the win. But Tampines didn't count on the double act of Miroslav Pejic and Vélez to spoil the party. After Pejic's goal had drawn them level, Vélez stole the show, receiving the ball from his strike partner outside the box before slamming an unstoppable shot past Rodrigo Pachecho in goals.
Warriors fans will certainly miss the nippy Argentine forward.