Winners & Losers: Referee camouflage and a rush of blood to the head
- Nicolas Velez - FourFourTwo's Player of the Round
A good striker is worth his weight in gold, and Nicolas Velez proved once again why he's so important to Warriors FC's hopes of defending their league title. The reigning S.League Young Player of the Year took less than 15 seconds to open his account in Malacca, finishing off a Kevin McCann cross from the right wing to put the Warriors firmly in the driving seat.
Faizat Ghazali drew the Malaysians level midway through the first half before Shi Jiayi restored the advantage, but it was left to the Argentinian striker to put the icing on the cake with his third goal of this season as Warriors FC returned home with maximum points.
Thursday's goals put Velez second on the top scorer's list, just one goal behind DPMM's freescoring Rafael Ramazotti. The Warriors FC hitman will be keen to grab the Golden Boot this season after missing out to Balestier's Goran Ljubojevic in 2014, but will need to sustain his form over the arduous nine-month S.League season.
- Robert Pericic and Miroslav Kristic
Balestier Khalsa have finally opened their S.League account this season, and it's in no small part thanks to their Croatian strike pairing. Both were strangely ineffective during their opening day loss to Warriors FC, but finally combined to good effect in their Round 2 win over Geylang International.
Pericic struck first, his effort on goal wrongfooting goalkeeper Yazid Yasin after taking a deflection off a Geylang defender. Eagles captain Jozef Kaplan replied soon after and just when it looked like it was going to end in a draw, up popped Kristic with a diving header to hand Balestier the win.
The win will be a huge boost for the Tigers, as they continue their AFC Cup adventures on Tuesday evening against a dangerous Johor Darul Ta'zim.
- Match officials at Hougang - Home fixture
In scenes that were described as 'comical' by The Straits Times, the S.League match officials at Friday's televised game between Hougang United and Home United belatedly discovered that their black kit was clashing with Home United's navy blue away kit. Both teams were reportedly finding it difficult to differentiate the officials from players, leading to instances of the ball being passed to the referee.
Referee Ahmad A'Qashah and his team might have thought about changing at halftime, only that wasn't an option because their alternate kits were bright orange – the same colour as Hougang's home kit.
What to do then? The three officials were forced to don green league anniversary shirts with the No. 20 on the back for the duration of the game.
- Albirex Niigata's defence
Albirex Niigata are still winless after two rounds, and while this week's defending wasn't as comical as the last, it was equally damaging as the White Swans fell to their second consecutive 1-0 loss.
When you go up against league leaders DPMM, you cannot afford to give them any freebies. And so it proved, with the Bruneians registering an astounding 21 shots on Yosuke Nozawa's goal (6 on target, 8 off target, 2 denied by woodwork and 5 blocked).
Unfortunately, it's the one that goes in that matters and so it was after half an hour when a horrendous backpass from Hikaru Mizuno completely missed teammate Kento Fujihara and instead fell perfectly for Rafael Ramazotti to slot home past a horrified Nozawa.
- Anumanthan Kumar and Roberto Alviz
What was going through Anumanthan Kumar's mind as the referee reached for a yellow card with ten minutes to go and the Young Lions a goal down to Tampines? No one knows, but after hacking down a Tampines player, the Young Lions midfielder suffered a brain fade and charged directly at the referee. He might have pulled up at the very last instant, but G Letchman had no hesitation in showing him a straight red instead.
Anumanthan will now miss crucial games against Balestier and Tampines (again!). It will be the middle of next month before he sees any competitive league action again.
The youngster was joined on the sidelines by Tampines midfielder Roberto Alviz, who had a wretched end to his debut for the Stags. Not only did he see a goalbound effort cleared off the line after rounding the goalkeeper, but he was sent off for a second bookable offence at the death after catching Fadli Kamis in the face with his trailing arm.