S.League 2017 Good & Bad: Keeper crisis looms and will Shakir ever learn?
Nizam’s return from injury
The win ensured Home kept pace with runaway leaders Albirex Niigata, who have a five-point lead.
But more importantly, it showed Nizam’s layoff did not affect his sharpness and eye for goal.
The striker has struggled for consistency in recent years due to injury but perhaps it’s time he reminded Singapore of his true capabilities.
With the Lions playing three international games in June — one being an Asian Cup qualifier against Taiwan — Nizam’s form bodes well for the national team.
Tampines’ failure to stop Albirex
Unfortunately, this week’s column contains more bad than good. For starters, Tampines Rovers not only failed to halt the Albirex Express, they were thumped 4-1 by the White Swans.
That left Albirex as the only remaining unbeaten team in the league and the local clubs really need to think about the pride at stake if the S.League title goes to foreign club for the third year running.
This is the S.League and Singaporeans will take little joy from seeing local clubs fail to step up and challenge what is generally a squad full of university graduates.
Tampines were perhaps a tad unlucky though, as they played better than the scoreline suggested, which brings us to the next point.
Shakir’s fury needs to be kept in check
Is it a surprise if you heard Shakir gave away a penalty against Albirex and then went on to earn a red card for violent conduct? Sadly, the answer is almost certainly no.
For too long, Shakir has failed to keep a lid on his emotions. On his day, he is one of the best left-backs this nation has to offer, but more often than not, he undoes all his good with moments of madness.
Tampines coach Juergen Raab was livid with his defender for his reaction to Shoichiro Sakamoto’s provocation and rightly so. Referee Nathan Chan had already spotted the Japanese’s infringement but Shakir decided to take matters into his own hands.
If a 10-man Tampines still looked capable of coming from behind against Albirex, imagine what they could have done with 11.
Like Raab said, the 24-year-old Shakir really needs to wise up. A player with his experience should know better.
Hassan sidelined again
This must be a concerning time for national team head coach V.Sundramoorthy. With Tampines goalkeeper and the country’s No.2 Izwan Mahbud already missing due to a groin injury, now Sundram has to keep his fingers crossed first-choice custodian Hassan Sunny can maintain his fitness.
Hassan missed Home’s game against the Young Lions, the latest in a string of brief absences over the course of this season. Of course, this could just be part of Home's rotation policy.
Hassan’s career has been largely disrupted by injuries, but many believed he had put these issues behind him ever since he won the S.League Player of the Year award in 2014. It would be worrying if he was indeed carrying a knock.
If this trend continues, Sundram might have to call upon Balestier’s Zaiful Nizam or Geylang’s young goalkeeper Syazwan Buhari for the June fixtures. Both are decent shot-stoppers, but they lack international experience.
Main photo: FAS