Team of the Week - S.League Rd 12
National keeper Hassan Sunny once again displayed his pedigree in defying all that former club Geylang could throw at him at Bedok Stadium last Friday night, doing everything in his considerable power to preserve his team’s slender 1-0 lead over a determined Eagles’ side. His efforts ensured that his Warriors FC team could at least hold onto second spot, as they make a valiant attempt to catch runaway leaders, Brunei DPMM.
By all accounts, Hassan was in sensational form, so much so that impressive showings from the likes of Home United’s Shahril Jantan and Tampines Rovers’ Hyrulnizam Juma’at, who were all class in Sunday’s match at Bishan Stadium, had to miss out this time. They weren’t the only ones either in a vintage week for keepers as Brunei DPMM’s stalwart Wardun Yussof maintained his consistent high standards in thwarting Albirex Niigata (S) in the Sultanate on Wednesday night.
Harimau Muda’s brave and inspired young keeper Ramdhan Hamid played no small part too in his team’s vital 2-1 win over a desperate-looking Tanjong Pagar United on Friday night.
Andy Ahmad was back to his earlier position of right-back for the visit of Hougang United to Woodlands Stadium on Thursday, making life hard for the usually fleet-footed Cheetahs flankers such as Fazli Jaffar. The Woodlands player is fast gaining a reputation as a versatile team man for the Rams and we’ll be monitoring his progress closely after he followed up on his debut appearance in our Team of The Week with another crucial defensive contribution.
Sorting out the best of the central defenders for the week is never easy, as most are very solid and consistent.
The suspended Boris Raspudic from DPMM is always a hard man to deny when he plays, while the Warriors’ pairing of Daniel Bennett and Marin Vidosevic will usually come under consideration on most occasions. Milos Jevtic stood firm at the back for Woodlands Wellington, as always, rendering the Cheetahs’ Brazilian pairing of Diego Gama and Geison Moura far less potent than they might otherwise have been.
This time, however, we had to pay tribute to two other regulars in this weekly selection. Balestier Khalsa’s rock Emir Lotinac showed the Courts Young Lions’ attackers the full extent of his vast experience to shut them out, bar one consolation effort from Jordan Webb, in the Tigers’ convincing 3-1 win at Toa Payoh Stadium last Thursday.
Home United defender Kwon Da-kyung shows up yet again and not only for his important goal and a few other near-misses from set pieces, but for his stylish reading of the game alongside defensive partner Precious Emeujeraye in Sunday’s 2-2 draw with Tampines Rovers. The Korean defender continues to score goals and he’s defended well yet again, after missing some of his side’s early matches. Even with his partners changing constantly due to injuries or suspensions, he's hardly missed a beat. Tampines’ crack striking duo of Aleksandar Duric and Miljan Mrdakovic can attest to that, as he blunted their fire-power throughout a closely-fought contest.
The left-back spot was held yet again by the ultra-consistent Sirina Camara, Home United’s dashing defender-cum-wingman. There’s little new to say about the impressive Frenchman who is likely to bob up many times more as the season fast approaches the run to the wire.
Yasir Hanapi was deployed by Home United in the right-back position usually occupied by Ismail Yunos and repaid his coach’s belief in his adaptability, having created and scored goals in many of his earlier appearances for the Protectors. The Home United midfielder-turned-defender had a very sound game and Tampines Rovers struggled to get the better of him at Bishan.
The lively Ruzaini Zainal had another big game for Tanjong Pagar United in their narrow loss to Harimau Muda, from left- back, but the weekly honours clearly went the way of Camara once again.
Ridhuan Muhammad had perhaps his best game of the season since returning to Singapore and linking with Geylang International, where he is captain this season. Had it not been for Hassan Sunny Ridhuan may well have led his side to victory at Bedok Stadium in an epic contest against Warriors FC. Hassan and the frame of the goal made all the difference and we couldn’t keep Ridhuan out, after such a strong performance.
Shahrul Igwan Samsudin from Harimau Muda B helped his side to a shock 2-1 win over Tanjong Pagar, his huge work-rate and running off the ball making him a hard man for the Jaguars to stop. As it was, the Jaguars’ own midfield dynamo Sebastien Etiemble did his best to wrest control from the youthful Malaysian boys who went on to snatch their second win, in as many weeks, having struggled to earn even a point from their opening ten matches.
While Brunei DPMM managed to see off the quality Japanese side Albirex Niigata (Singapore) on Wednesday, they were certainly kept busy by Keisuke Ota who is beginning to make many observers sit up and take notice.
These successful contenders did not have things all their own way by any means. Others to figure prominently in discussions were Tanjong Pagar’s wonder-winger Asraf Rasheed, Harimau Muda’s energetic Akhir Bahari, the always insightful Shahdan Sulaiman from Tampines and two-goal hero Kim Minho, who worked effectively on the left flank for Balestier and chimed in with the goals that sank Courts Young Lions.
More of the usual suspects show up in our forward line this week, with one fresh face throwing down a new challenge.
Harimau Muda seem to be finding form at last and their main-man up front, Mohammad Ramzi Sufian, is playing a large part in that.
Goran Ljubojevic from Balestier Khalsa is something of a goalscoring-machine and did not disappoint in his team’s 3-1 win over the Young Lions, showing some classy finishing in helping extend his team’s first-half lead.
Diego Gama from Hougang United may have been under a throttle-hold by the Woodlands defence but his pressure- penalty, taken well into stoppage-time, earned him all the plaudits and the relief of his coach, Amin Nasir as the Cheetahs snatched an unlikely 1-1 draw.
But the honours this week have to go to the remarkably consistent Nicholas Velez, whose goal proved the difference between his Warriors FC and Geylang International. He’s just proving too difficult for opposition sides to shut out and having missed the previous game through suspension, that one week respite had him back fresh-as-a-daisy and ready to inflict further damage, as he sets his sights on a possible Golden Boot; though it is early days, of course.
The other striker in the team is Roy O’Donovan, who can be a fiery presence on the field but knows the way to goal, as evidenced by his normal contribution of a vital goal against Albirex. He’s not always on target, the frame of the goal often proving one of his main obstacles, but he’s starting to resemble Mr Consistency, just as Velez is doing this season for the second-placed Warriors.
If these two teams remain where they are for the rest of the season it’s likely to be largely due to the efforts of this pair of prolific strikers, week-in, week-out.