Team of the Week - S.League Rd 21
The games continue to come in thick and fast with the second half of the S.League finishing soon, but there’s always time for us to sneak in a Team of the Week. To make things easy, we've decided that Round 21 will consist of picks from August 24 to August 28. This allows for player nominations from all teams except Harimau Muda B, who contested the recent Hassanal Bolkiah Trophy semi-finals.
He just missed out on our previous Team of the Week, but Joey Sim grabbed his opportunity with both hands this time round with a superb performance to help his Geylang International pip Tanjong Pagar United. While not the most imposing of goalkeepers around, Sim made use of every part of his 1.76m frame to deny the Jaguars with several key saves, showing courage and a good command of his area.
On the other hand, his opposite number Aurelien Herisson, who clinched the goalkeeper spot in the previous round, had a decent performance. Despite conceding two goals through no fault of his own, the French-Brazilian custodian did his very best to keep his team in the game, preventing Geylang from adding to their advantage on numerous occasions.
He had to play without his regular partner Paul Cunningham once again, but Emir Lotinac came to the fore and kept Balestier Khalsa in the running for sixth spot. Together with teammate Jaslee Hatta, the pair of defenders nullified hotshots Geison Moura and Diego Gama, and ensured that Hougang hardly ever got a sniff at goal.
It was also Jaslee’s second successive start having previously missed a large chunk of the season, but he showed no sign of rustiness as he prevented cross after cross from entering into the box, defending his flank superbly to force Hougang’s forwards to feed on scrap.
Joining the pair is Kento Fukuda of Geylang International, who makes his second straight appearance in the team. A huge reason why Joey Sim had a more comfortable time against Tanjong Pagar United, Fukuda hardly put a foot wrong throughout. He ensured the Tanjong Pagar forwards had a quiet time, organising the back four and helping keep things tidy at the back.
It was unfortunate that Fukuda’s partner in crime Yuki Ichikawa had to miss out however. The Japanese too had a good outing, snuffing out the threats from the Jaguars, but dominating performances from the other three means he narrowly misses out.
Fazli Ayob has been featured sparingly throughout the whole year, but the midfielder produced one of his best performances in years against the Warriors. The former Courts Young Lions and LionsXII man troubled his opponents’ defence throughout the match, and found himself at the right place at the right time to put his name on the scoresheet.
Time is clearly still on his side and should the former Singapore international be able to produce such performances on a more consistent basis, he could very will be back in the mix for national selection.
Shahdan Sulaiman looks set for a starring role in Singapore’s mission to defend their AFF Suzuki Cup title, and it was apparent why. While Tampines may have wasted a two-goal lead against Albirex to come away with only a point, the playmaker was at his imperious best, creating chance after chance while running the show from the engine room.
Not afraid to do the dirty work either, the Singapore international has improved by leaps and bounds this year and there is no doubt he can be considered as one of the best midfield generals in South-East Asia.
Shahdan’s Tampines had to settle for a point however, thanks to Kazuki Sakamoto’s heroics. The Japanese played in a deeper role than usual, but still managed to notch a brace which further damaged the Stags’ hope of defending their league title. Tampines looked to be crusing before a penalty and then an unstoppable finish from the Albirex player stunned them. The Stags will not be looking forward to facing him again in Round 2.5.
Completing the midfield is yet another Geylang International player. Franco Chivilo may not have set the S.League on fire with his performances in the first half of the season, but he appears to have turned it around. The Argentinian hardly put a foot wrong, breaking up play and intercepting balls right in the heart of the midfield, while playing some superb passes to his forwards. It was Chivilo who earned the free-kick for the eventual goal with a driving run before he was brought down.
While rumour has it that Chivilo may be released at the end of the year, more of such performances will definitely have other clubs knocking down the door for his signature.
It was goals galore in what was one of the highest scoring rounds, and all three forwards in the team bagged a brace in their respective games.
Roy O’Donovan had a wonderful evening as his Brunei DPMM team thrashed a woeful Woodlands Wellington side, the Bruneian side racking up eight goals with the Irish striker providing two. O’Donovan also had two assists on the night, showcasing what a perfect team player he was. It is no surprise that he is reportedly on the radar of Birmingham City, although Brunei fans will take solace with the English transfer window now closed.
Rounding up the quartet of Geylang International players is Leonel Felice, whose two goals secured the three points for his team. The target man worked hard all night and made a nuisance out of himself for the Tanjong Pagar defenders, who struggled to cope with his size and pace on the ball.
Goran Ljubojevic had an assist to add to his pair of goals, as he helped his Balestier team to stay in the hunt for the final spot in the top half of the table against current occupants Hougang. The marquee striker was at his imperious best, and was a pain in the ass for the Cheetah defenders who failed to contain the powerfully built hit man.