S.league Good and Bad: Gritty Protectors, graceful Swans and highlights galore

Warriors FC’s unbeaten start to the 2017 S.League campaign came to an end, while Hougang United returned to winning ways and the FAS elections mercifully came to an end. Once again Deepanraj Ganesan picks out the Good and the Bad...

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The Good:  

Home learning to grind it out  

Home United extended their unbeaten start to their league campaign to six matches this week with a 3-0 victory over Geylang International.  While on paper it seemed like a straightforward win for Home United, the score line failed to reflect what was essentially a gritty and fractious encounter with the Eagles. 

While Home had Hassan Sunny’s man of the match performance to thank for what was only their second clean sheet of the campaign, this was perhaps the first time this season that Aidil Shahrin’s side had to physically outwit their opponents as flair went out of the window in place of muscle and determination. 

As the Eagles looked to outrun and over power their opponents, with Isa Halim in particular being a battering ram in midfield against his former club, the Protectors did not shy away. Believe it or not, even Adam Swandi was not shirking challenges.  

Home don't mind getting their hands dirty. Photo: Home United

In last week’s column, it was mentioned that if Home were to be serious contenders for the title, they had to show grit in their play and a certain defensive nous to keep clean sheets. Looks like we didn’t have to wait too long to see those elements come to fruition.  

Beware Albirex Niigata (S), because you finally may have found a truly worthy rival for the title. 

Unstoppable Albirex a sight for sore eyes  

While Albirex do need to be wary of the threat posed by Home United, the Japanese club is in irrepressible form.   

After sweeping all before them last season, few would have thought a new-look Albirex would get any better in the following season. But with every match this season, Yoshinaga Kazuaki’s side is showing that perhaps its best is yet to come. 

Albirex still set the benchmark. Photo: Albirex Niigata

In this week’s 4-2 win over Warriors which saw the latter’s unbeaten run come to an end, Albirex put up a show in front of a good crowd at Jurong East Stadium. Tsubasa Sano’s seventh and eighth goals of the season were a treat for the audience as well. 

Kento Nagasaki’s sublime free-kick that left goalkeeper Zainol Gulam with no chance whatsoever was also one to savour.  Goals aside, Albirex have certainly been a team that sings all the right notes out on the pitch with their movement and passing enthralling even the most neutral of supporters.  

While many have called for an all-local league in time to come, Albirex’s continued excellence is a reminder of what we will potentially miss out on if that was indeed to be a reality. But while they are here, it seems that every match that the Japanese side plays is a feast for us to relish.  

FAS elections finally draw to a close   

And finally, the dust will begin to settle from the turf war that was the FAS elections. While the winning team led by Lim Kia Tong will now sashay into Jalan Besar Stadium to start its term, all eyes and more importantly media attention can now shift back to the forgotten child, the S.League  

Again this week we were given a reminder of the quality that the S.League can produce on its best days with Home United and Geylang playing out a well fought match, while Allbirex put on a show against Warriors in a six-goal thriller. But amidst all the noise emanating from the elections, the spotlight wasn't quite on the football action.

While the question of who will win the election has been answered, there are now a flurry of new questions, such as how can the S.League be marketed better, how can the stands be filled again and who will be the new S.League chief executive?  

It could be an exciting future for the local league with the newly-elected team promising changes. Just don't expect anything too soon.   

[UP NEXT: The bad for this week]