Better late than never…
First and foremost, apologies for the delay for the team of the week for last week. A packed schedule meant that it was going to be a while before I could churn this out.
Regardless, what a weekend it was. Albirex Niigata and Lion City Sailors put on an entertaining display that ended in a 1-1 draw. Yet, the main talking point of that fixture has to be the immense fanfare it garnered with lines stretching outside the Jalan Besar Stadium. Elsewhere, Tampines Rovers managed to secure their first win since May of this year with a 2-1 victory over Young Lions while Tanjong Pagar fought tooth and nail to come from behind and secure a point with Hougang United.
Hassan Sunny – GK
Hassan Sunny was simply outstanding against the White Swans and following Jorge’s injury, he had to be on his toes as Albirex Niigata tried to capitalise on the Sailors’ towering defender’s absence. The custodian showcased his trademark reflex saves, and was unlucky to have left the game without a clean sheet.
Unlucky with a lapse of concentration at the end, but besides that moment of carelessness, Tajeli Salamat put in a fantastic shift that spoke to his strengths. Jockeying out Albirex defenders, and providing timely challenges to keep out the constant barrage, the fullback also showed sparks of his offensive talent, providing long balls that looped over the Japanese side.
Showing his experience and versatility in all things defence-oriented, Hariss provided the solidarity that the Sailors needed especially after Jorge hobbled off the pitch. Although it did seem at first like a makeshift plan for the boys in blue, Hariss quickly showed his defensive prowess, and did well to keep out the barrage of Albirex offensive moves until the unfortunate last gasp goal.
The Young Lions captain did well to convert from the penalty spot. While the penalty given was a tad bit dubious, Jacob Mahler helped keep his side in the game with a cool finish from the spot kick. He was also instrumental in feeding his teammates the ball. Making a solid 69 passes against the Stags, he had an overall good game.
A constant threat bombarding down the left flank, Tokiwa had to be kept in constant check by LCS’ defense. We noticed his constant overlapping moves that caused havoc and provided an added element of attacking width for the White Swans.
The Serbian maverick was instrumental in Tampines’ 2-1 victory as he had a hand in both goals. In the 33rd minute, Zirko’s set-piece found the back of the net as it took a deflection off the Young Lions wall. In the 72nd minute, it was another magical moment from the attacking midfielder as he cleverly flicked a lobbed pass with his backheel to Taufik Suparno who was never going to miss in the six-yard box.
Sinking a dagger into LCS’ title hopes, the Albirex forward made a run to maximise his chances of a second ball that wasn’t picked up by any of the Sailors’ defenders. What followed was a goal that rewarded the Swans’ persistence in front of goal, showing the importance of being at the right place, at the right time.
The Albirex lynchpin in midfield was pinging passes all over the pitch and trying hard to ensure his team deny Sailors a victory that could hand them the title. It was yet another stellar performance from Kosuke Chiku who has done brilliantly all season.
The Jaguars’ Japanese Ace did well against Hougang United and was menacing down the left flank as usual. Reo Nishuguchi has done well against tough opponents like Hougang United and he capped off the evening by providing a sublime cross into the penalty box that found an unmarked Khairul Amri who was in the right place at the right time.
Tampines desperately needed a win to secure their place in the AFC Cup and after the Young Lions equaliser from the spot-kick, they needed a hero. Up stepped Taufik Suparno who connected with Zirko’s brilliant pass and struck a volley to send the ball past the Young Lions custodian and into the back of the net. The super-sub strikes again and he earns a spot in this week’s team of the week.
The Brazilian hitman may have gone M.I.A for a good chunk of the season but yet again he made his presence known against the Jaguars. Expertly controlling Kaishu Yamazaki’ sober the top through ball, Gilberto took a touch and showed real finesse to lob the ball over Zharfan Rohaizad.