The FFT S.League Takeaway: Rams gain first three-point haul while Eagles soar again
Return of heady days for the Warriors?
In our 6 Spicy Questions last week, we mentioned that it was an excellent opportunity for Warriors FC to pick up their third win in four games against Hougang United. And well, they seem to have followed our script.
It wasn’t exactly the most fluid of attacking displays, but Alex Weaver’s side flicked the ‘on’ switch when it truly mattered. There were worries when first-choice custodian Hassan Sunny was sent off after Miroslav Pejic’s opportunistic opener, but they were duly banished thanks to a colossal shift from captain Daniel Bennett at the back. As a result, the Cheetahs strikeforce were unable to make any headway all game long.
Pejic duly put the result to bed with a late individual goal and the Warriors now find themselves in a heady third place in the table. With nine points gained against three sides which were in the bottom six last season, they will now need to replicate that winning form when they face Balestier Khalsa and Tanjong Pagar United next.
SEE ALSO Photo Gallery: Warriors 2 Hougang 0
Eagles gain reprieve under new gaffer Jorg
Geylang International tasted success on the first time of trying under new gaffer Jorg Steinebrunner, proving the adage that ‘new brooms sweep clean’.
It was a decent debut for the still unproven German, but the slim victory was more down to the players’ resilience rather than a tactical masterclass. Goalkeeper Joey Sim did well to thwart the Young Lions attackers, debutant Kento Fukuda played like he has donned the Eagles jersey for years, while Leonel Felice forced Sheikh Abdul Hadi into an own goal early on.
A first three points of the season has lifted the gloom surrounding Bedok Stadium for now and that should gear them up nicely for their next challenge - welcoming a wounded, but still dangerous Brunei DPMM side.
Perennial problems for White Swans despite much-needed win
Albirex Niigata (Singapore) gaffer Tatsuyuki Okuyama could afford some breathing space for now after his side managed to overcome Balestier Khalsa in their second win of the season.
Beating a fellow title challenger was indeed impressive, but the 38-year-old should not ignore the failings of his team during this televised affair. For all the chances they created in the game, they could and should perhaps have won by a bigger margin. Goal scorer Kazuki Sakamoto was the worst culprit after missing a glut of chances in the second half.
The White Swans will really need to improve on their ruthlessness (or rather, the lack of it) as they take on unbeaten Woodlands Wellington next.
Resilient Rams finally taste victory
In our last Takeaway, we struggled to rate Woodlands after three come-from-behind draws. Their stunning victory at Queenstown Stadium has definitely given us food for thought though.
Once again in typical Darren Stewart-style, they will not entertain many fans with their style of football but boy, they are a real tough nut to crack. Monsef Zerka and company found little joy trying to break through a backline led by the excellent Rosman Sulaiman and the impeccable Yazid Yasin in goal.
The three points eventually came via a Taufiq Ghani header, marking Stewart’s first win as Rams coach. If they continue to show the same level of resilience, there will be no reason why they can’t topple the White Swans in their next league game.
Experienced Stags send out early title warning
We are not league champions three times in a row for nothing – the message from Tampines Rovers was heard loud and clear after an impressive 2-1 win over Brunei DPMM in Bandar Seri Begawan.
Pre-match talk had been revolving around Steve Kean’s impressive start in his Southeast Asian adventure and how the Bruneians were going into this top-of-the-table clash with no fear, but it was the Stags who had the last laugh after coming from behind to triumph.
Despite conceding an early Roberto Alviz’s strike, Salim Moin’s charges remained calm and waited for the right opportunities to break forward. The fight back was eventually completed courtesy of strikes from Miljan Mrdakovic and Shahdan Sulaiman, but credit has to be given to how the ‘old guard’ of Mustafic Fahrudin and Aleksandar Duric coped when the chips were down.
The Stags are now poised to make it five out of five when the young Tigers come visiting next.
Beware, the real Protectors are back
It has been a stop-start season so far, but if things can be judged on this mauling of Harimau Muda on Sunday night, this could well be the turning point in Home United’s season.
With new signing Fazrul Nawaz finally back to full fitness, gaffer Lee Lim Saeng had the opportunity to try out a three-pronged attack featuring him, Qiu Li and Bruno Castanheira. Coupled with marquee man Lee Kwan-Woo pulling the strings from midfield, the Protectors strike-force suddenly looked so much more fearsome.
All three goals came through the contributions of this Fantastic Four – the first goal came via a Lee through ball which released Castanheira before Fazrul tapped home; the second involved Qiu and Castanheira before the same man slotted home again; the third finished with Qiu applied the coup de grace after Lee’s gorgeous no-look outer-foot pass.
If this quartet can continue to turn on the style, there is little reason why the Protectors can’t plunder the goals in the months to come.
Main Photo Credit: Weixiang Lim