Team of the Week - S.League Rd 2
Round 2 of the S.League began with a bang and didn't let up till the end, as Hougang's shock win and a limp display from Geylang bookended what was a fascinating weekend of action. The international break beckons, but fear not as our FourFourTwo Singapore writers agree on an S.League Team of the Week.
Outstanding performances between the posts were few and far between this last round as outfield players took the spotlight with game-changing displays. One notable exception was Brunei DPMM's Wardun Yussof, who returned to the first eleven in a 2-0 home win over Warriors FC.
The 32-year-old Bruneian goalkeeper kept a clean sheet as Steve Kean’s men went top with a superior goal difference – in no small part thanks to the zero in their goals conceded column so far. DPMM had Wardun to thank this week as he gained an upper hand in two one-on-one situations, producing several fine saves which included a point-blank block midway in the first half to deny a certain goal from Nicolas Velez.
Handed the Albirex Niigata (Singapore) captain’s armband this week, Itsuki Yamada had an inspired game at both ends of the pitch as he led them to a 3-0 win over an inexperienced Harimau Muda B. The 23-year-old left-back not only contributed to his team’s shutout against the Malaysians but was also influential in attack, scoring the first goal and providing an assist for the second goal by Kazuki Sakamoto.
Boris Raspudic has also proven to be an inspired import signing for DPMM as his side are the only league side yet to allow a goal past them after two matches. The 31-year-old Bosnian centre-back showed a good reading of the game and made vital interceptions to frustrate the Warriors forwards before further damage could be created.
The Hougang United defensive duo of Wahyudi Wahid and Igor Cerina played key roles at the back as their side upset Tanjong Pagar United 2-1 at Queenstown Stadium. Starting the match at right-back, Wahyudi moved into the centre to partner his team-mate after another Croatian, Durica Zuparic, had pulled a thigh muscle and withdraw midway in the first-half.
Despite playing out of position, the 24-year-old Singaporean defender rarely put a foot wrong and grew into his role in every passing minute, apart from an unfortunate handball inside his own box that led to a converted spot-kick. 25-year-old Cerina is building a reputation too as one of the most dangerous players in attacking set-plays as he netted his second league goal in as many matches off a corner kick delivery.
Another defensive duo, Syed Thaha and Emir Lotinac of Balestier Khalsa, were also instrumental for their side as they helped maintain their unbeaten start to the season with a 1-1 stalemate against Woodlands Wellington. The former started the move that led to the Tigers’ opening goal while the latter put in a solid shift at the back to shut out the Woodlands forwards.
After narrowly missing out on the previous team of the week, Hougang attacking midfielder Fazli Jaffar stepped up his game and contributed both assists for his team’s victory at Queenstown Stadium. A real handful for opposing full-backs, the 30-year-old’s hard running and persistence up front embodied his side’s never-say-die attitude as they came back to snatch their first win of the season.
Equally outstanding in the middle of the park was Home United's evergreen playmaker Lee Kwan Woo. The former South Korean international displayed impeccable vision to pick out his colleagues in both set piece and open play situations as he dished out three assists in the Protectors’ 4-1 rout over Geylang International at Bishan Stadium.
Tampines Rovers midfielder Shahdan Sulaiman had an impressive outing in the middle of the park as he linked up with the strikers to set up a 3-2 over Courts Young Lions at Clementi Stadium. Shahdan had a hand in two of the goals, the first through a combination play with Aleksandar Duric to set up the equaliser and the second a long pass from deep that found his man for the winner.
Another Protector, Izzdin Shafiq, displayed renewed confidence in his natural passing game deep in midfield and repaid his coach’s faith in him by bossing the middle of the park and opening the scoring. Tanjong Pagar's French midfielder Sebestien Etimeble also impressed in his playmaking role in place of injured compatriot Kamel Ramdani and opened his account with a penalty goal but sadly missed out on selection this week.
Two of the three forwards are back in our Team of the Week for a second time after impressing up front with goals to lead their respective teams to two wins in as many league matches.
It was another masterful performance from DPMM striker Rodrigo Tosi as the veteran Brazilian scored the opening goal and set up another for Rosmin Kamis in injury time to provide a winning start in Bandar Seri Begawan. The Warriors defenders often ended up in knots at the back as they struggled to keep up with his play in the final third.
Give Miljan Mrdakovic half a chance inside the box and he will punish you with relish as the Young Lions became his second victims this season. The league top scorer’s predatory instinct led to Tampines’ equaliser and the winning goal late in the match. Four goals in three competitive matches are testament of his ability up front for the Stags.
Rounding up the attacking trio is Home United forward Yasir Hanapi. Encouraged to push further forward from his starting role on the wing, the 24-year-old was undaunted by early misses and persevered with his pace and positioning to slot home a brace and down former employers Geylang.
Woodlands Wellington striker Chang Jo Yoon also deserves a mention for scoring a gem of an equaliser with his spectacular dipping shot from outside the box to salvage a point for his side, while Albirex striker Kazuki Sakamoto showed his immaculate finishing in scoring his side’s second goal. Both will hope to show more of the same after the week's break and perhaps find their way into our team in the future.