Cambodia National Team vs Courts Young Lions
Venue: Yishun Stadium
Date: Saturday, 29 September 2012
Courts Young Lions will only be made up of only local players and 5 NFA U18 players.
Entry is free for all.
Email us at
Welcome to the home of the Courts Young Lions
Cambodia National Team vs Courts Young Lions
Venue: Yishun Stadium
Date: Saturday, 29 September 2012
Courts Young Lions will only be made up of only local players and 5 NFA U18 players.
Entry is free for all.
Tanjong Pagar United defender Hafiz Osman had the odd achievement of scoring at both ends of the pitch when his side held the Courts Young Lions to a 1-1 draw at Jalan Besar Stadium on Wednesday evening.
While the result was enough to end a long losing streak for the Young Lions that has stretched for seven weeks, Tanjong Pagar were left to rue a missed chance to overtake their opponents into tenth place.
It was therefore unsurprising to see the coaches of both teams taking vastly contrasting positions at the post-match interviews, with Robin Chitrakar showing a remarkable turn at humour.
“It’s a fair result, of course, considering one guy scored at both ends!” he said, half in jest, before addressing more serious concerns.
“We didn’t make the chances we created count when we had possession. Definitely, we have to do better in the attacking third.”
Chitrakar was more understated in his comments than his Tanjong Pagar counterpart Terry Pathmanathan, however, as the former national captain made his displeasure plain after missing out in victory for the third match in a row.
”I’m not happy with the result, definitely; I don’t think I was going for a draw,” said Pathmanathan.
“I think we did well enough to win this game, but if we look at the performance, a win isn’t justified. Some of the players played at a level that was below what we are looking for.
“Erratic passes, poor control of the ball, not winning the tackles… Those problems affected the players so much that I think it would be a struggle for us for the next three games.
“But we will still try right up to the last game.”
The game saw Chitrakar fielding former Gombak United forward Fareez Farhan and National Football Academy trainee Shannon Stephen Ratnagopal for the second consecutive game, after both featured in the team’s 0-2 loss to Geylang United.
Both players looked raw on the pitch, but they appeared to do enough to please Chitrakar, who spoke about their inclusions afterwards with enthusiasm.
“You’ve seen Fareez Farhan having another start, which is a good thing as he is only 18 years old,” he noted.
“I think he did reasonably well, until he got some knocks. That is why I decided to field Jonathan Toto, who is also half-fit, in the second half in his place.
“Shannon had another good start too, and it wasn’t easy for him, but he did reasonably well on the other flank.”
Chitrakar was referring to the fact that the fullback was used on the left against Tanjong Pagar, whereas he held the right-wing spot normally taken by Faritz Abdul Hameed at Bedok.
At one point late in the first half, the 18-year-old even came close to scoring the opening goal of the game, when his header off a ball played into the box flew inches above Fajar Sarib’s beam.
The Young Lions had chances to go in front before that as well, one of which went to bright midfield prospect Faris Ramli after 20 minutes of play.
Challenging and then eluding his markers with some nifty footwork, the Young Lions No.10 took a shot that was excellently gathered by Fajar in the Tanjong Pagar goal.
But it was not all one-way traffic, as Jaguars playmaker Takaya Kawanabe also had a couple of close chances shortly before that effort by Faris.
The first of those chances came on 18 minutes at the end of a decent exchange of passes by the men in black and gold, who wreaked havoc in the home side’s heartlands.
Kawanabe was only able to fire a weak effort at the top of the box, though, doing little to rattle Young Lions goalkeeper Syazwan Buhari.
One minute later, Syazwan almost gifted Kawanabe with a chance following a poor clearance, but the unexpected opportunity must have seemed too good to be true for the Japanese.
Snapping at the opportunity, he packed too much power in his boot, and the ball flew clean across the bar, much to the relief of every person in the Young Lions dugout.
The moment left Tanjong Pagar in agony, though, as they sought their first goal since sinking SAFFC in late August through a strike by former Warriors fullback Hafiz.
The former Singapore international was to find himself on the scoresheet in this game as well, although funnily enough, it was for both teams.
A moment of miscommunication inside the Tanjong Pagar box between Hafiz and Fajar had the former accidentally deflecting Sherif El-Masri’s cross from the left flank into his own net on 52 minutes, when the custodian was actually well-placed to gather the ball.
But the villain redeemed himself with a well-taken header inside the box on 64 minutes, steering home a free kick floated in from the right wing by Asraf Abdul Rashid.
Asraf, a one-time SAFFC man himself, showed some pinpoint dead-ball delivery on the evening, and it was from another such that he almost set mid-season signing Anthony Aymard up for the lead on 72 minutes.
Aymard’s volley did not end up in the net, however, while Kawanabe saw his advance on 80 minutes halted by a timely tackle by Sirina Camara.
That was all both sides could muster by the end of the evening, and they had to go away with a share of the spoils.
But while Chitrakar was left feeling pleased with the way more players are emerging from his developmental squad, Pathmanathan appeared frustrated by a lack of progress from his charges as the end of another season approaches.
Article taken from sleague.com, written by Ko Po Hui
CYL Line up:
Syazwan Buhari, Faritz Abdul Hameed, Sirina Camara, Shannon Stephen, Fazli Ayob, Faris Ramli, Fareez Farhan (Jonathan Toto 46″), Zulfahmi Arifin, Benjamin Lee, Nazrul Nazari (Syafiq Zainal 82″), Sherif El-Masri
Geylang United’s Kanan Vedhamuthu and his Courts Young Lions counterpart Robin Chitrakar might have eyed their Great Eastern-YEO’S S.League encounter on Sunday evening as the perfect opportunity to snap their respective poor runs of form in recent weeks.
But only one team could leave Bedok Stadium happy at the end of the evening happy, and Geylang were to be that side as they eventually saw out a 2-0 victory.
It was hardly the most inspiring of games by all accounts, as Singapore national coach Radojko Avramovic joined 230 others in witnessing a series of cautious plays that dictated the tone of the match.
There were few chances to bring the fans to the edge of their seats, largely due to a lack of penetration from both sides, though the case was more curious for the visitors.
Canada Under-23 international Sherif El-Masri and former Etoile FC striker Jonathan Toto were named on the bench instead of in the starting eleven, with former Gombak United prodigy Fareez Farhan leading the line for the Young Lions.
Chitrakar attributed his tactical switch to a hectic schedule that meant the Young Lions were playing the second of three matches in eight days.
“Squad rotation is one reason, as we’re playing so many games,” he toldsleague.com.
“But like I’ve said before, we’re a development squad, so we want to give some of the boys a chance. You can see guys like Fareez Farhan and Shannon (Stephen Ratnagopal) starting today.
“Shannon made a good debut today, it’s his first game in the S.League. He looked composed in tonight’s game, and it’s boys like him we want to bring through.”
Geylang meanwhile missed English midfielder Michael King, who was lost to an eye infection on the morning of the match, forcing Kanan to reluctantly name a half-fit Stefan Milojevic in his starting eleven.
Amy Recha Samion joined Fabian Kwok and Nurhazwan Norasikin in a midfield filled with Prime League talent for the hosts, but the lack of firepower up front, coupled by some composed initial defending by the Young Lions, contributed to a slow start to the game.
It was only after 20 minutes had passed that the first chance to break the deadlock came, but Geylang did well to score from it right away.
Some jostling for possession took place inside the Young Lions box, before the ball ricocheted out of it and into the path of Eagles midfielder Shah Hirul, who instinctively went with a 20-yard blast that flew past a flailing Syazwan Buhari for the first goal of the evening.
Finding themselves in pole position, the men in white and green tried to build on their lead, with a nice one-two passing move involving Nurhazwan and Amy Recha on 35 minutes coming close to prising the Young Lions defence open a second time.
But quick thinking by Syazwan saw him going off his line immediately to defuse the situation, saving his confused defenders the blushes and keeping the difference between the two sides at one goal.
The young custodian’s fine reading once again proved useful five minutes before half-time, when he had to narrow the angle to foil Nurhazwan after yet another piece of crumbling defending from his outfielders.
Having seen his attackers manage nearly nothing noteworthy in the first 45 minutes, Chitrakar’s decision to bring El-Masri and Toto on in the second half was inevitable.
The Canadian came first, replacing Fazli Ayob at half-time, before the Frenchman joined him just after the hour mark, with defensive midfielder Shamil Sharif making way.
Toto almost managed to make an impact immediately, whizzing along the right flank on 65 minutes before placing his attempt into the side-netting.
It was one of a rare number of chances for the Young Lions firing squad, with their other notable opportunity in the game coming nine minutes from the end, when Benjamin Lee failed to use his chance well in the box.
The match eventually closed out much like how it had when the Young Lions hosted Bruneian side DPMM FC ten days ago, as they conceded a soft goal on 86 minutes.
Blitzing through on the left after picking up a pass from Hirul, Jozef Kaplan found himself facing minimal resistance from his markers, and made no mistake with only a helpless Syazwan left to beat.
Having affirmed their leading position, Geylang proceeded to pocket the three points that gave them a four-point buffer ahead of cellar-dwellers Woodlands Wellington.
With Tanjong Pagar United falling to DPMM by a convincing three-goal margin in another fixture on the same evening, Geylang saw their hopes of pulling away from the bottom two raised.
That left Kanan doubly happy as he claimed his first victory since the conclusion of their StarHub League Cup campaign in mid-August.
“It was a good first win for us since the League Cup competition, and it was our first league win since the last one against the same team,” he noted.
“It’s kind of like coming full circle!
“I told the boys we won tonight because we worked very hard, and when we keep doing that, the luck will come. With this win tonight, we hope we can catch up with Tanjong Pagar and narrow the gap.”
Chitrakar meanwhile cut a frustrated figure as he saw his side’s winless streak in the league stretch to five games.
“It’s disappointing to lose, it always is,” he told sleague.com.
“I thought my boys had come out to play, especially in the second half, when we had much of the possession. The only difference between the teams is the two goals they scored, and with the chances we created, it was disappointing we couldn’t tuck them away.
“Benjamin had that chance late on, and if he had scored, it would be a totally different ball game. That was the turning point of the match for me; we missed, they scored, and that was it.
“I’m disappointed to see us conceding goals, even though we knew we ran the risk of being hit on a counterattack. Whatever it is, when we concede goals, it means our defence can do better.”
Article taken from sleague.com, written by Ko Po Hui
CYL Line up:
Syazwan Buhari, Faritz Abdul Hameed, Sirina Camara, Shannon Stephen, Fazli Ayob (Sherif El-Masri 46″), Hafiz Abu Sujad, Faris Ramli, Shamil Sharif (Jonathan Toto 61″), Fareez Farhan (Nazrul Nazari 75″), Zulfahmi Arifin, Benjamin Lee
Whether they knew Albirex Niigata (Singapore) head coach Koichi Sugiyama was looking on anxiously in the stands is anyone’s guess, but their grip on the trophy they lifted last year could only have become tighter with this result, which was collected at a canter.
Even though captain and prolific scorer Aleksandar Duric was reported to be carrying an injury, his coach Tay Peng Kee raised eyebrows by fielding him from the start, rather than take the risk of using Noh Alam Shah, who has yet to start since a mid-season return from Indonesia.
Duric not only lasted the entire 90 minutes, he presented his coach and the fans with two superb strikes inside the opening 15 minutes to set up the simple victory.
Even if the big No.9 had a few other opportunities he could not quite convert, it was a sharpshooter and sharp finisher who turned up to reward his team for their fine assists.
That left Tay vindicated for his decision to field the league’s all-time top goalscorer.
“Aleks is a great inspiration to the rest of the team,” he said at the post-match press conference.
“He’s definitely injured, but he wants to play, and the team spirit is so good now. There’s no longer any quarrelling on the pitch when things don’t go well.
“The team’s also fitter now, but it’s not possible to get them much fitter than this at this late stage of the season.”
There was one worry for the Stags at the end of the evening, however, as Fahrudin Mustafic spent the last five minutes of the game off the field after sustaining a groin injury.
“He got a yellow card, so he would have been suspended for the next game on Saturday (against Gombak United) anyway, but I think he could be out for a couple of weeks,” Tay revealed.
When asked if the Singapore international could return in time for the team’s RHB Singapore Cup semifinals clashes with Filipino side Loyola Meralco Sparks, Tay suggested he may miss at least one of the two games as well.
At least the evening began much more brightly for Mustafic and his colleagues, who started the match at a fast and furious pace, so much so that the Young Lions appeared not to know what hit them.
Although the home side had been playing reasonably well until recently, they had to see this one out without their regular goalkeeper Syazwan Buhari, who reported sick, and missed a couple of others who have been claimed by the demands of National Service.
Having talismanic striker Shahfiq Ghani suspended for this match hardly helped matters, though the defence was hit more badly than anywhere else.
From their early assaults on goal, Tampines looked very much the team that would score first, and so it soon proved.
All of the frontrunners were working together, and that included wide man Imran Sahib and support players Ahmed Fahmie, Ahmad Latiff Khamarudin and Gligor Gligorov.
Imran had the first serious chance of the match in the third minute, after a sustained period of pressure had seen the ball played back to him around the edge of the area, right in front of goal.
From 20 yards out the winger, who usually lays on the passes for his teammates, had a dig of his own for once, and it needed a fingertip save from Young Lions stand-in goalkeeper Neezam Aziz to deny Imran an opening goal on this occasion.
Duric fired wide at the far post from the ensuing corner, but with the Stags giving everything from the start a goal seemed inevitable – and it duly came in the sixth minute.
Attacking from the right just inside the penalty area, Sead Hadzibulic niftily laid the ball across to Duric on the left, who stood remarkably unmarked, and the 42-year-old struck a first-time shot that rocketed into the roof of the net.
The Stags captain fired wide again a minute later after some more rapid approach play by a very mobile Tampines team.
Notably, their game seemed simple enough to the untrained eye, though that was perhaps because the players have developed a formula that makes everything seem that way – a result of years of playing together.
The Young Lions did try to attack, and their coach Robin Chitrakar made it clear after the game that he was happy that his team had done that often, but they really had no answer on a day when Duric decided to roll back the years and play like a man ten years younger, if not more so.
After Young Lions captain Hafiz Abu Sujad had a shot that went well over in the tenth minute, it was only another five before Duric claimed his second.
This time Latiff fed the ball through the middle towards the edge of the area, where Fahmie pushed the ball on towards Duric, slightly to his left but pushing on to the fringes of the six-yard area.
The veteran then drew Neezam and finished as clean as a whistle, scoring the kind of goal he has scored so often in his long and distinguished career – but it was a true team goal all the same, and one well worth witnessing.
The Young Lions kept plugging away, but despite all the efforts of Benjamin Lee and Zulfahmi Arifin in particular, they could find no way through a Stags defence that had Mustafic covering superbly for the suspended Benoit Croissant.
Tampines made a half-time change, bringing Jamil Ali on for Fahmie, while the Young Lions did not make a change until they had gone 0-3 down just after the hour mark.
This time it was not a team goal, but a piece of typical individual magic from Latiff, who spent much of the game in the team’s engine room but often hinted at his ability to do more.
The 33-year-old unleashed a signature special from 30 yards out that went like a tracer bullet into the roof of the net, virtually signalling the end of the contest.
The Young Lions almost immediately introduced Faris Ramli and Nazrul Ahmad Nazari, hoping to salvage something from the game, but apart from winning a few free kicks and corners, their attempts on goal were few and far between.
Faris saw his effort go just over the bar from 20 yards out on 81 minutes, but for the most part the game was still going the visitors’ way.
Duric in particular was playing as though his legs were as flexible as when he had started the match, chasing after everything in an attempt to grab his elusive hat-trick.
Alam Shah, by contrast, came on for the last half-hour, but he was unable to make much of an impression until the dying moments, when his angled shot from the right was booted off the line by Young Lions skipper Hafiz.
It left the enigmatic No.8 still searching for his first goal since making the proverbial prodigal’s return, but that hardly seemed to bother Tay, who had bigger targets in his sights.
“I think we should be able to win (the title) now, but I really can’t say that just yet,” he said, when asked how close his charges were to being declared the season’s big winners.
“The Albirex game next Wednesday may settle it.
“The team’s playing with more confidence now, but the injury to Fahrudin is a concern. Not so much for the next game, but the one after that.
“Playing four games in eleven days is very difficult, and I’ve never thought it a good idea for any team to play four games in eleven days. So we will have to see how the next games go.”
Article taken from sleague.com, written by Paul Green
CYL Line up:
Neezam Abd Aziz, Faritz Abdul Hameed, Sirina Camara, Emmeric Ong, Fazli Ayob (Nazrul Nazari 65″), Hafiz Abu Sujad, Shamil Sharif (Faris Ramli 63″), Zulfahmi Arifin, Benjamin Lee, Sherif El-Masri, Jonathan Toto (Fareez Farhan 71″)
Despite a gallant display that saw them take the lead, the home side were made to pay a heavy price in the final twenty minutes as DPMM stormed their way back to stay in contention for a first league title.
As the recipient of the inaugural Young Player of the Year award when the S.League kicked off in 1996, Chitrakar had unique qualifications when it came to speaking about youth players.
And while he was keen to bring up the positives, he eventually conceded that a lack of nous cost his side dearly after being pressed to analyse his team’s performance.
“I thought my team competed well with DPMM, considering the fact we are a young team,” said the 35-year-old.
“We gave them a very good run for their money, and it’s a lack of experience that caused my team to concede goals like the ones they did.”
Indeed, the hosts looked bright in the opening minutes, with ace winger Sherif El-Masri’s spirited running along the left flank causing problems for an unsettled Bruneian backline after only two minutes.
Soon after, an unmarked Fazli Ayob let his impulsiveness get the better of him, firing audaciously from 30 yards when he had Jonathan Toto towards his right, equally unattended and in a position to close in on goal.
With the campaign going into its final third, it was curious to note that the Young Lions were still trying to negotiate their learning curve, and another piece of poor execution by Fazli on 21 minutes kept the score at 0-0.
The 22-year-old had clear problems keeping shots on target, even with his head, as a nodded effort sailed over the beam from close range after El-Masri had once again done well to deliver a fine pinpoint cross.
The woodwork also featured at the opposite end of the field earlier on, when DPMM’s Brazilian forward Patrick da Silva rocked the upright on 18 minutes with a header off a free kick played in by Ivan Jerkovic.
Oddly, that was the only notable chance the Wasps had before the half-time whistle, while the Young Lions continued to rack up the misses.
On 34 minutes, referee Sukhbir Singh ordered an indirect free kick to be taken in the DPMM penalty area, acting on a piece of dangerous play by the towering Tales dos Santos, who raised his feet a little too high over a challenging Faritz Abdul Hameed.
There were those in the stadium who thought it odd that a penalty was not given instead, though Chitrakar himself sounded reserved on the subject.
“I was quite a distance away, and obviously I’d want a penalty, but I can’t say if it’s a penalty as I was a distance away,” he said.
“We can’t say anything until we go back and look at the video.”
In any event, that indirect free kick produced nothing, and it was well after the game had passed the halfway mark that the Young Lions put themselves on the scoreboard.
Danish import Benjamin Lee was the man of the moment, glancing a Faritz free kick past Wardun Yussof on 64 minutes to give his side the lead.
Having gone in front, though, the Young Lions proved incapable of keeping themselves there for long, and it took DPMM all of seven minutes to get back on level terms.
A well-taken free kick by Wasps skipper Rosmin Kamis, who started the game despite late fitness doubts, proved the perfect catalyst as his teammates were spurred on for the remaining twenty minutes.
Chitrakar’s remarks on his team’s inexperience rang deafeningly true on 74 minutes when elementary mistakes at the back practically gifted DPMM the chance to go in front.
Emmeric Ong, who had recently completed his National Service commitments, slipped up badly to allow Basiru Osman to run away with the ball, catching the Young Lions defence in sixes and sevens.
The Ghanaian then laid the perfect pass to Jerkovic, who finished the move off with consummate ease.
But that was hardly the end of the collapse, as sloppy work at the near post when defending a corner then left the home side falling even further behind with only five minutes to go.
With Azwan Salleh absent due to injury, Sairol Sahari had the honour of taking corners with his left foot, and he duly sent the ball swerving into goal at the near post.
It certainly embarrassed the Young Lions no end, although it would be fair to suggest that goal was a simple matter of the defence losing concentration late on.
But whether it was a case of poor focus or, as Chitrakar suggested, plain inexperience, the man remained insistent that he had things to be happy about despite ending up on the losing side.
“The boys tried their very best, and obviously we are disappointed to have lost the game,” he said.
“We came out today to play an open game, we tried to build play up from behind in this match. And I thought we competed well, despite losing 1-3; DPMM are just a much more experienced side.”
Wasps coach Vjeran Simunic was meanwhile in jovial mood as he walked into the interview room, having seen his side snap a two-match winless streak since lifting the StarHub League Cup last month.
“Today we took three points against my favourite team, the Young Lions,” beamed the Croat.
“This is a fantastic team, and if I were not the DPMM coach, I would like to coach this team with good players like El-Masri, Benjamin and Toto. I watched them play many times, studied how they played, and I’m proud to beat them today.
“Before the match, I told my team that we must take the next six games, after what happened in our last two matches.”
Simunic was however less interested in commenting on his opposite number’s remarks regarding the inexperience shown by the Young Lions.
“Robin is a young coach, and I can’t speak about his side,” he remarked.
“Although I prefer coaching a young side, I am now coaching an ‘old’ side! But I’ve always pushed young players on from my bench, like Helmi Zambin.
“He is virtually unknown in Brunei, but I pushed him into the team. And I think he did well today.”
Article taken from sleague.com, written by Ko Po Hui
CYL Line up:
Syazwan Buhari, Faritz Abdul Hameed, Sirina Camara, Emmeric Ong, Fazli Ayob (Faris Ramli 80″), Hafiz Abu Sujad, Shamil Sharif (Shahfiq Ghani 66″), Zulfahmi Arifin, Benjamin Lee, Sherif El-Masri (Sufianto Salleh 85″), Jonathan Toto
A solitary Iqbal Hamid Hussain goal was enough for Gombak United to overcome the Courts Young Lions 1-0 in a rescheduled Great Eastern-YEO’S S.League fixture played out at Jurong West Stadium on Tuesday evening.
The result propelled the hosts to within a point of seventh-placed Singapore Armed Forces FC as they kept up hopes of a strong mid-table finish, even if they had to do it the hard way.
Returning over the weekend from Brunei, where they gained a creditable point against title contenders DPMM FC, the travelling, as well as the gruelling manner in which the Bulls navigated those 90 minutes, could have taken the toll on their bodies.
Indeed, they were not particularly impressive in the first half, with the Young Lions more than a match for them in terms of breaking away on the counter as fullbacks Hafiz Abu Sujad and Faritz Abdul Hameed were involved in overlapping runs and subsequent crosses.
The visitors’ first opportunity came on 13 minutes, after a ball played in by skipper Hafiz was deflected for a corner.
From Benjamin Lee’s resulting delivery, Shamil Sharif had two stabs at the leather and scuffed wide from his second attempt.
Then on 33 minutes, Faritz went down the right channel and whipped in a dangerous cross that Jonathan Toto got his head to, though the French forward’s effort lacked the power to trouble Zaiful Nizam in the Gombak goal.
The marauding rightback was then brought down six minutes later by Nurullah Hussein, but Zulfahmi Arifin’s ambitious curling effort could only clear the bar.
The Bulls did have the better start, however, as they nearly opened the scoring after just over a minute and a half played.
Nurullah’s long throw created confusion in the Young Lions box as Adrian Dhanaraj decided to have a speculative punt on goal, which crashed off the right woodwork with Syazwan Buhari stranded, before Julien Durand put the rebound over.
Gombak kept trying to play their brand of attractive passing football, but they lacked the final touch on a number of occasions.
The closest they went was on 29 minutes, when Chris Anderson slipped an intelligent through ball for Durand to race on to, but the French attacker showed how he was not a natural poacher by sidefooting it wide with just Syazwan to beat.
Gombak coach K. Balagumaran sensed thing were not going right for his side, and he made his first substitution of the night by replacing right winger Samuel Benjamin Nadarajah at half-time with forward Jung Hee Bong.
The lanky Korean was deployed up front alongside Durand, with Hafiz Rahim pushing out wide as a result.
His second trick out of the hat came on 57 minutes, when he replaced the tiring Mustaqim Manzur with the precocious Iqbal on the left flank.
“Samuel didn’t play up to expectations, so I decided to sub Bong in,” said Balagumaran as he explained his moves.
“The opponents were building up well at the back, so the instructions given to Bong were to go in to press the two centrebacks.
“He’s carrying an injury, but he told us he could go in. I also asked the team to play the long ball to him so that he can lay off to Durand.
“Mustaqim was tiring after just recovering from a flu bug he got in Brunei, so I brought Iqbal in. The instructions given to Iqbal were to either take shots or go to the flanks to cross to Bong, because they had (Sirina) Camara missing.”
The pair of substitutions proved to be a masterstroke, with both involved in the all-deciding goal on 59 minutes.
Jung cut inside from the left flank and played a slide-rule pass to Anderson, who in turn clipped a ball through for Iqbal, who was trotting away towards the flag.
The winger took advantage of the acres of space left by the Young Lions defence to fire an unerring left-footed effort into Syazwan’s bottom corner for his first senior goal.
That proved heartbreaking for the visitors, who had missed an excellent opportunity to break the deadlock just five minutes earlier when Toto’s headed effort to reach Shamil’s right-wing ball had been too weak for Zaiful.
Their hopes of getting a result were then vaporized, after Sheikh Abdul Hadi was sent off 13 minutes before the end.
Already on a tightrope due to a booking on the hour mark, the centreback proceeded to take Durand out as the latter ran towards the box, and he was duly sent off by referee Leow Thiam Hoe for a second yellow card.
Holding a one-man advantage, the Bulls should have put the result firmly in the bag, but they were denied by the woodwork and some wasteful finishing.
Jung checked inside his marker on 81 minutes and looked set for his first goal in a while when he let fly from just inside the box, but the left-footed effort could only leave the crossbar bruising with Syazwan well beaten.
Substitute Fairoz Hasan slid Hafiz through on 88 minutes, but the angle was too tight for the 28-year-old, and Ismail Yunos fired over a minute later.
The misses could have been costly as the Young Lions were resurgent during the closing stages.
First Hafiz Abu Sujad fired a snap-shot wide from substitute Fazli Ayob’s cutback on 86 minutes, and then Lounis brought former Bulls trainee Fareez Farhan down outside the box three minutes later, Zulfahmi’s free kick delivery causing chaos before Jung managed to clear.
Eventually, though, the Bulls held out for the crucial three points, as Balagumaran praised the impact his substitutes made.
“Bong did not score, but tactically he helped us a lot, while Iqbal made a lot of difference after he came on,” said the former national youth coach.
“We were more composed with the ball and kept it better than the Young Lions did. They have young players who are fit and fast, but they were always rushing and losing the ball when they came to the attacking third.
“If we keep to this tactical discipline, I’m confident not many teams can beat us easily.”
Young Lions coach Robin Chitrakar could only lament his side’s inability to get a result.
“The boys’ performance today wasn’t too bad,” he told sleague.com.
“People talk about results, but with this team the performance is just as important.
“We came out to play and wanted to win, but it’s unfortunate that we could not get a result. It wasn’t easy with Gombak putting in long balls with a tall striker up front, and they had a lot of men at the back, which meant the boys couldn’t find space.”
Article taken from sleague.com, written by Kenneth Tan
CYL Line up:
Syazwan Buhari, Faritz Abdul Hameed, Sheikh Abdul Hadi, Emmeric Ong, Hafiz Abu Sujad, Faris Ramli (Fazli Ayob 64″), Shamil Sharif (Tajeli Salamat 80″), Zulfahmi Arifin, Benjamin Lee, Nazrul Nazari (Fareez Farhan 82″), Jonathan Toto
The result moved them up to fifth place in the table, only two points adrift of third-placed DPMM FC and one behind Home United.
Korean forward Kim Min Ho struck the opener at the end of a well-worked set-piece play four minutes before the break, and the points were sealed four minutes from the end by substitute Patrick Paranjody.
Balestier rightback Poh Yi Feng and Young Lions winger Sherif El-Masri were sent off in an injury-time clash, but that did little to spoil the evening for the hosts, who managed the win despite being down to their bare bones.
Kim, who had scored the winner over the same opponents in the StarHub Plate Final, was preferred in attack over the off-form Zdravko Dragicevic, with four other Prime League players named on Darren Stewart’s bench.
Robin Chitrakar meanwhile made two changes to his Young Lions lineup on their return to action, as Shamil Sharif and Nazrul Ahmad Nazari came in for Shahfiq Ghani and Benjamin Lee in midfield.
Despite playing in front of a small crowd, both teams started the game with plenty of enthusiasm, and a number of chances worthy of mention surfaced in the opening half-hour.
Park Kang Jin pulled a fourth-minute free kick high past the top corner for the hosts, before the visitors had one themselves on 16 minutes, which was rammed into Balestier’s defensive wall.
The home fans had an early scare when Kim was felled on the turn by Shamil near the halfway line, and Paranjody was immediately ordered by Stewart to warm up behind the Balestier bench.
Goalkeeper Joey Sim was another who needed attention from the sports trainer on a couple of occasions, and a couple of butter-fingered saves in the first half did not help his cause.
He still kept his goal safe, though, with the most notable instance coming late in the first half, when he fumbled Sirina Camara’s header off a corner before finally having the ball in his grasp.
And just as the first half seemed set to peter out unexcitingly, Balestier put themselves 1-0 up four minutes before the interval through a well-improvised dead-ball play.
Paul Cunningham nodded the long delivery towards the right, where fellow defender Goran Subara was on hand to steer the ball into the six-yard box.
With most of the Young Lions too busy marking those two tall figures, Kim was left relatively unattended, and his low header easily went past a hapless Syazwan Buhari in the visitors’ goal.
Chitrakar’s charges were dealt one further blow shortly afterwards, when Camara hurt his elbow after landing awkwardly on the Toa Payoh turf in a challenge near his corner flag.
That meant Emmeric Ong, who had rejoined the Young Lions squad in a low-key move at the start of the month, had to be rushed into action.
Chitrakar made a further change at half-time when he brought Shahfiq on for Shamil in an attacking move, but the best that came early in the second half was a wild cross that missed El-Masri.
It was odd that, despite the presence of the Canadian, Shahfiq, Nazrul, Fazli Ayob and even deep-lying midfielder Zulfahmi Arifin, creativity was in short supply for the visitors as the game seemed almost intent to fit the bored girlfriend’s description of “22 men chasing after a ball”.
At least Shahfiq did his bit to try to shine, unleashing a sudden stinger on 62 minutes after Nazrul managed to slip the ball to him while being taken down by a Balestier defender.
But Sim matched that brilliantly with a flying save, and having found his assured self back, he was barely troubled for the rest of the evening.
A ball into Shafuan’s nether regions forced him off the field despite his clear wish to play on, and Stewart took the chance to bring Paranjody on, having warmed him up again for some time.
The change was rewarded four minutes from the end, when the Young Lions defence made the cardinal sin of letting a long ball into their zone bounce on their right flank.
Paranjody, seeing Syazwan well off his line, pounced on the opportunity with a looping header from a long way out, and despite the backpedalling custodian’s desperate hand, the ball went comfortably into the net.
That had the visitors’ hearts sink as frustration set in, and Hafiz Abu Sujad and El-Masri were soon booked in separate incidents.
There was to be more trouble for the latter in injury time when he clashed with Poh, and as both teams threatened to break out in a free-for-all, both men were shown the red card by referee Ahmad A’qashah, while Balestier reserve goalkeeper Zakariah Nerani was also booked.
All that was quickly forgotten as the final whistle came, though, and the Tigers, a top-four side back in the league’s founding years, pocketed three points that took them closer to that esteemed standing for the first time in a good long while.
Win with ‘bare bones’ squad pleases Stewart
Balestier Khalsa coach Darren Stewart praised his team for showing ‘guts and determination’ despite a lukewarm performance in their 2-0 defeat of the Courts Young Lions on Friday evening.
The Australian was frank if understated in his post-match interview, acknowledging that he was comforted by the way his squad, missing a trio of players through suspension, managed to dig deep and come up with the win.
“It was a useful three points, yeah, but an ordinary performance,” he told sleague.com.
“The really positive thing was that we ground out a result with a team down to the bare bones. We didn’t play well, and that’s where the guts and determination had to come in, you could even say we were a bit lucky.
“We’ve got people out there who are playing with broken bones in them. I won’t mention who, but there’s more than one of them, and the fighting spirit they’ve shown is fantastic.
“The broken bones aren’t going to heal before the next game, that’s just two weeks away. But it’ll help when we get five players back from the injuries and suspensions!”
One player left out of the squad despite being fit was forward Zdravko Dragicevic, whose place on the day was taken by Korean youngster Kim Min Ho, who proceeded to score the opener.
Stewart acknowledged that leaving Dragicevic out was a tough decision, although he made it clear the Montenegrin should not be blamed for losing his place in the Tigers first team.
“The lad is just unlucky, he’s really come into the squad at a time when we haven’t played well,” he said.
“Earlier in the year, when we were dominating, he would have scored a hatful of goals. But he’s really unlucky, and that’s why I’m giving Kim a go while he tries to get out of this dry run.”
Young Lions coach Robin Chitrakar conceded that bad defending cost his team the chance to get a draw, before voicing his concern on the injury sustained by defender Sirina Camara.
“The boys tried their very best, but of course we are disappointed in the result,” he commented.
“We kept possession, we tried to build up and go forward to score, but the difference between the two teams was the two goals that Balestier scored. I think both were a case of sloppy defending and poor marking.
“Camara got it bad with his elbow, I think there was a push on him from behind. But we will rotate around for our coming game on Tuesday (against Gombak United), though I hope guys like Shahfiq (Ghani) will be available.”
Article taken from sleague.com, written by Tam Cheong Yan
CYL Line up:
Syazwan Buhari, Faritz Abdul Hameed, Sirina Camara (Emmeric Ong 47″), Sheikh Abdul Hadi, Fazli Ayob, Hafiz Abu Sujad, Shamil Sharif (Shahfiq Ghani 46″), Zulfahmi Arifin, Nazrul Nazari (Benjamin Lee 68″), Sherif El-Masri, Jonathan Toto
Singapore’s Faris Ramli did not make it into the final 26 at the Nike ‘The Chance’ Global Finals held in Barcelona, Spain.
Having done the nation proud by getting into the Top 52, the Young Lions winger went into the semi-finals along with 51 other footballer but did not impress the coaches enough to stake a claim for the final 26.
The finalists had to endure another nerve wracking afternoon and evening as the head coach Jimmy Gilligan and his staff made their tough choices on which 26 would play in tomorrow’s final game at FC Barcelona’s Mini Estadi.
Once again, the announcement was made after dinner, with half of today’s semi-finalists told they had done enough to carry on in the competition. “The final 26 have conducted themselves so well this week and have shown me that not only are they the best here, but that they can take further steps and represent the Nike Academy in the future.”
For the other half it was hard to take but their mood was buoyed by a visit from former Inter Milan star Marco Materazzi. The Azzuri legend had these words of advice for the talented youngsters, who have one last chance to impress when they play tomorrow.
“The final 26 have done so well to make it to the final game. Now though they have to sleep well and arrive at the final with real hunger. It is the hungry ones that will succeed. On the pitch they must be themselves and do the simple things well. That is the secret.”
Despite having his journey halted at the Top 52 stage, a grateful Faris said: “This has been an amazing journey. From the day I took part in the Country Finals all the way to being here in Barcelona. Who would have dreamed of such a fantastic chance. I may not have made it through to the top 26 but what I have learnt here at the Global Finals will make me a better player. The tips that coaches shared with me and the advice given by the football stars like Marco Materazzi and David Luiz, nothing can replace it. I would like to thank Nike for this great, great opportunity. I don’t think my journey ends here. In fact, this will spur me on to becoming a professional footballer.”
When asked about what he felt was lacking for him in the semi-finals, Faris quickly added: “Communication was a problem. The players on the pitch wanted to showcase their talent and with my position on the wing, it was tough getting the ball. However, when they switched me to a more central role, I felt that I did well. Still, the quality on the pitch here at The Chance Global Finals is scary. Everyone is so good. I guess I was just that bit unlucky. See you all back in Singapore.”
*Content and images courtesy of Nike Football Singapore
On his 20th birthday, Singaporean winger Faris Ramli’s name was announced at the Nike ‘The Chance’ Global Finals dinner with Brazil defender David Luiz amongst the crowd.
With the top 100 finalists giving their all over the past four days of training sessions, Faris stood out from the group as winger with vision, style and plenty of pace to burn.
Along with Thailand’s Napapon Sripritheep, the two South-east Asian finalists will now continue their challenge for a place in the top 26.
The 52 players will be divided into four teams of 13 players with each team playing later today (24 Aug) before the group gets narrowed down to a list of 26 at dinner. Faris is grouped in Team 4.
Faris’ birthday was made even sweeter when the players headed to Camp Nou for the Super Cup game between FC Barcelona and Real Madrid which ended in 3-2 victory for the hosts.
Speaking about his place in the Top 52, Faris said: “I am so excited and happy that my hard work paid off. I came to Barcelona with the mindset to deliver my best performance in front of the coaches and to go as far as I can. Now I will focus my energy on doing well in the match to seal my spot in the round of 26. The Barca vs Madrid match was magical. The atmosphere inside the stadium is unbelievable and this will be another wonderful chapter in my Nike The Chance journey. Time to rest up and prepare for my game tomorrow. I hope my family and friends back in Singapore are proud of what I have achieved and I promise to push myself all the way!”
For more photos, click here.
For more information, log on to nikeinc.com
Photos and content are courtesy of Nike*