Team of the Week - S.League Rd 9
Round 9 was of the 2014 S.League season was filled with goals as the ball found the net 27 times in six matches. Brunei DPMM stayed top after a delightful 4-1 thrashing of Balestier Khalsa, while Warriors FC moved up to second after overcoming Courts Young Lions 3-2. So who are the standout performers over the past week? The FFT Singapore writers have agreed on 11 standout players from the last round (albeit after a bit of bickering).
It was a tough week for goalkeepers as none of the 13 who featured managed to keep a clean sheet. Out of the lot, Tanjong Pagar United’s Aurelien Herisson was the standout.
Still reeling from last week’s nightmarish outing against Home United when he conceded four goals, Aurelien put a strong performance between the sticks this time round against defending champions Tampines Rovers.
The 24-year-old was dependable when called upon, collecting a number of crosses whipped into his box as well closing down the opposition forwards. A brave block to deny Miljan Mrdakovic in the closing stages eventually earned his side a hard-fought point.
Meanwhile his opposite counterpart Hyrulnizam Ju’maat was perhaps unlucky to miss out. Facing a determined Jaguars strikeforce which fired a number of potshots at goal, the 27-year-old almost thwarted everything that came his way.
Warriors FC keeper Hassan Sunny also deserves a mention after a solid display against Courts Young Lions. The 30-year-old showed his athleticism with a number of key saves and was perhaps unlucky to concede two late on.
Woodlands Wellington’s Andy Ahmad earns the first defensive slot after yet another competent display at right back. A rookie before this season, the 23-year-old has been an ever-present under new gaffer Darren Stewart.
Fiesty in challenges while energetic in going forward, Andy nullified most of the Geylang International attacks that came down his flank.
Tanjong Pagar’s Nor Azli Yusoff and Hanafi Salleh played sterling roles in their side’s 1-all draw against Tampines.
The former showed his versatility and experience throughout; he shackled the likes of Mustafic Fahrudin and Shahdan Sulaiman in the middle of the park before moving into the centre of defence for the last 30 minutes where he made one last-ditch challenge after another.
The latter was solid at left back and dealt with the tricky threat of Jamil Ali down his flank; he was a tad unlucky to miss out on selection for this TOTW.
Albirex Niigata’s Shuhei Hotta gets the last place in this three-man backline after a commanding performance in his side’s remarkable 4-2 victory over Home United.
Facing off against a fearsome strikeforce comprising of Fazrul Nawaz, Qiu Li and Bruno Castanheira was never going to be easy, but the 25-year-old made the task look simpler as it seemed. To add some gloss on his night, he was at the right place at the right time to stab home after Shahril Jantan’s parry fell into his path. Not too bad for an evening's work, isn't it?
Meanwhile, Warriors FC’s Marin Vidosevic and Geylang’s Kento Fukuda deserve shoutouts for pulling off goalscoring acts out of defence in their respective games.
In the past couple of weeks, Warriors FC’s Miroslav Pejic seemed to have added another dimension to his game. Realising that most of the defenders in the league are starting to take note of his goalscoring prowess, he seems to have shifted his attention to setting up his fellow attackers instead. After providing three assists in the 4-0 drubbing of Albirex Niigata (Singapore) last week, he played another pivotal role this week with another three in his side’s 3-2 victory over the Young Lions.
Hougang United seem to have coped well with the absence of key midfielder Azhar Sairudin over the past two games and credit has to go to Nurhilmi Jasni for that. The versatile 27-year-old opened the scoring mere seconds into their away game against Harimau Muda and was his usual combative self in the middle of the park.
It has not been easy to fill in the shoes of Kamel Ramdani but Sebastien Etiemble has been trying to do so within his means. The attacking midfielder shouldered most of the attacking responsibilities in his advanced role behind Monsef Zerka and was the heart of many promising moves. Adding a goal to his tally aids his cause for this TOTW, but what was more impressive was the fact that he won the ball off the robust Mustafic in the build-up for that goal.
A hallmark of a good player is to react positively to any setbacks that come your way and Albirex’s Kento Nagasaki did just that last Sunday. After being dropped from the starting eleven last week against the Warriors, the 24-year-old put in a masterful performance when given the nod from the get-go this time round. Orchestrating things all over the park, his creativity and vision caused many problems for the Home defence which has just leaked in eight goals all season prior to that game. Almost all his through passes were inch-perfect, with striker Kazuki Sakamoto benefitting twice from his expert deliveries.
The last midfield slot goes to Geylang’s Mustaqim Manzur. The 32-year-old has been looking revitalised of late under new coach Jorg Steinebrunner and produced another solid display against Woodlands this week. His expertise at set pieces were the main outlet for Geylang’s attacks; a first-half free kick which led to Fukuda heading home while he nearly scored himself with a cheeky curling effort from 25 yards which came off the post.
Home’s Lee Kwan-Woo can count himself unfortunate to miss out this week after showing good leadership and courage to motivate the side when his side was four goals down at one point against Albirex. He did his best by firing in two stunning long-range efforts but it was all too late for his side to salvage anything from the game. DPMM’s Roberto Alviz and Woodland’s Atsushi Shimono also put in good shifts for their team on the weekend.
There were four players who hit braces this week but unfortunately FFT only has space to fit in two.
Albirex Niigata’s Kazuki Sakamoto gets the first slot for his clinical finishing against a stingy Home backline. Sweeping home Nagasaki’s centre for the first, the 24-year-old showed his class for the second. Expertly taking down the former’s long ball, he took a couple of touches to draw Shahril out before calmly rolling the ball into the bottom right corner. His header thereafter also proved too hot for the Home custodian to handle as Hotta stole in to stab home the rebound.
DPMM’s red-hot strike duo of Roy O’Donovan and Rodrigo Tosi was at the heart of another thrilling victory for the Bruneian side, although only one of them could make this TOTW. Tosi’s lofted pass led to the former slamming home the first goal, before O’Donovan returned the favour by earning the penalty which the Brazilian slotted underneath Zaiful Nizam. He then swept home the second before O’Donovan ghosted in between the two Balestier centre-backs to squeeze home a sizzling finish for the final goal of the night. The two players have now accounted for 17 of the 24 goals which Steve Kean’s side has scored this season.
Warriors FC’s Nicholas Velez also continued his goalscoring form by adding a brace to last week’s four-goal feat against Albirex, while Courts Young Lions’ Sahil Suhaimi could hold his head up high for his hardworking shift as well as his late free kick goal despite his side’s defeat to Alex Weaver’s team.