Fandi brothers strike to give Young Lions fifth win of the season against Tampines
The Young Lions clinched their first win in 10 attempts against Tampines Rovers after brothers Ikhsan and Irfan Fandi scored in either half to secure a come-from-behind 2-1 Singapore Premier League (SPL) victory on Wednesday at the Jalan Besar Stadium.
Amirul Adli netted an outstanding effort, his second goal in three games, to give Tampines the lead midway through the first half, but Ikhsan scored before half-time to level matters before Irfan struck an outrageous free-kick late in the game to secure three points.
Despite the win, the Young Lions stayed in seventh on the SPL table, as they trail Balestier Khalsa on goal difference. Tampines also remained in second, but there is every possibility that Brunei DPMM will be able to overtake them as the Wasps have three games in hand and trail by just seven points.
The Young Lions started the game brightly, with Ikhsan testing Tampines goalkeeper Syazwan Buhari early on. But the Stags slowly grew into the game, although they were unable to break down the gritty Young Lions defence easily.
A moment of brilliance from Amirul in the 27th minute helped Tampines get the breakthrough with only their first shot on target of the night. Getting the ball from Ryutaro Megumi 30 yards away from goal, the midfielder took a touch before slamming a right-footed effort into the bottom corner, leaving the diving Zharfan Rohaizad with absolutely no chance of getting to it.
Tampines came close to scoring again on 38 minutes, after a miscued cross from Irwan Shah clipped the crossbar.
The Young Lions equalised just four minutes later, as the Tampines backline were caught napping by an incisive through-ball from Joshua Pereira. Ikhsan outpaced Fahrudin Mustafic to the ball, before coolly slotting it past Syazwan to level matters.
The striker could have gotten a second goal just two minutes later, but his finish was unable to match his brilliant run at the heart of the Stags defence.
Down the other end, both Jordan Webb and Khairul Amri tested Zharfan, but the Young Lions goalkeeper did his job with no fuss.
The Young Lions would start the second half as the more energised side, with half-time substitute Haiqal Pashia turning his marker smartly before drawing a save from Syazwan.
Yet it was the visitors who almost surged ahead again on 59 minutes, with Hami Syahin required to clear Amirul’s header from a corner off the line.
Amri then forced Zharfan into action with an effort from just inside the area, while Amirul almost found the target again from the range only to be denied by the Young Lions keeper.
The Young Lions almost got a second goal with just four minutes left on the clock after Haiqal played a superb reverse pass for Naufal Azman. But with just Syazwan to beat, the forward rushed his shot and allowed the goalkeeper to make a huge stop.
They eventually did so on 89 minutes after Irfan smashed an unstoppable free-kick from 30 yards into the net despite Syazwan getting a hand to it, and were able to hold hand for the remaining six minutes including stoppage time for a valuable win.
Tampines will take on bottom team Hougang next on August 12, while Young Lions will face Brunei DPMM three days later.
Tampines Rovers Head Coach Jurgen Rabb: “I said to the team they must prepare for highly motivated team… you have seen today they have brought all the players back. We had to do our job and for me it was clear, they tried to make a surprise. I’m not sure why my team could not bring the same performance as the last match.
“We started nervously, we were not so sharp, we were not so focused, not concentrating, made easy mistakes. We had the lead, but we gave them the chance for the counter and gave them an equaliser. I hope we could have done better in the second half but the spirit was not what I think we can bring on the pitch. They scored the winner, maybe it’s a reward for what they have done today… but it’s too easy to concede the goal from that distance.
“It’s disappointment for us, it has happened and we must meet tomorrow morning and clear what were the reasons for the defeat. This match was totally different from what we’ve done from the last match and I’m not sure what was the reason for it.
Young Lions Head Coach Fandi Ahmad: “Second half we pushed and pushed. Good win for us, we fought very hard and the boys gave their best. First 30 minutes I thought we controlled them and our boys were very disciplined. But lapses in midfield, like not picking up Adli. It was a good game and I’m very happy for the boys, to win against Tampines. Twice we failed before this game and today I told them we have to get at least a point.
“Haiqal made an impact. The last 15, 20 minutes we were on top through counter attacking. Overall we stuck to our plan, we were more disciplined, can see we tried to frustrate them. But more importantly, we got the three points. I’m happy for Nazeem, first half a bit jittery, but second half we was good. Today we managed to contain Jordan and Megumi, and I’m happy with that.
“It was fantastic that they scored. We practiced a lot with the free-kick, we told him (Irfan) just to blast it on the free-kick. I’m happy, hopefully they can learn, sometimes our awareness isn’t there because of inexperience. This is better than last few seasons, we will see what happened eventually. I’m happy for the boys, first time they are singing. We hardly beat a top team.”
Young Lions: Zharfan Rohaizad (GK,C), Nazhiim Harman, Adam Hakeem (Zulqarnaen Suzliman 64′) , Joshua Pereira, Ikhsan Fandi, Hami Syahin (Syed Firdaus Hassan 88′), Irfan Fandi, Naufal Azman, Prakash Raj (Haiqal Pashia 46′), Rusyaidi Salime, Jacob Mahler
Tampines Rovers: Syazwan Buhari (GK), Madhu Mohana, Fahrudin Mustafic (C), Amirul Adli, Zulfadhmi Suzliman (Hafiz Sujad 71′), Ryutaro Megumi, Jordan Webb (Shah Shairan 85′), Irwan Shah, Yasir Hanapi, Khairul Amri, Irfan Najeeb (Shameer Aziq 68′)