Singapore Premier League • April 5, 2018

Taufiq Muqminin savours Young Lions return with first ever professional goal

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The skipper also assisted the opening goal and helped his team keep a clean sheet in a 2-0 win over Hougang United FC

Taufiq Muqminin turned in a captain’s display against Hougang United FC.

SINGAPORE, 5 APRIL 2018 – As he saw his team-mate streaking away with the ball on the counter-attack, Taufiq Muqminin thought: “It’s now or never”.

Busting his lungs out to sprint from his own penalty area to the opposite one, the centre-back took Zulqarnaen Suzliman’s left-wing cross in his stride and feinted past an opponent in one fluid movement before lashing an accomplished finish into the bottom right corner.

The sweet strike was Taufiq’s first-ever professional goal and sealed a 2-0 win for the Young Lions against Hougang United FC at Jalan Besar Stadium on Wednesday night, as they started their Great Eastern-Hyundai Singapore Premier League (SPL) campaign on a high.

“The last time I scored was during my Prime League days!” he said after the game. “The minute I saw Zulqarnaen running off, I decided to go for it! He did extremely well too (to lead the break).

“I was very happy to score… and I wouldn’t have done it without the endless support of my team and loved ones. I hope it will be the first of many!”

It was also a perfect way to mark his return to the team after a nightmare 2017, where Taufiq played just seven minutes due to National Service commitments and injury troubles.

The 21-year-old, who played his first match in six months only this February during a pre-season tour, turned in a splendid performance in his debut as skipper of the Young Lions.

Apart from scoring in the 67th minute, Taufiq also provided the assist for Joshua Pereira’s 34th-minute opener and helped his side blank the Cheetahs at the other end.

A superb recovery challenge on Antoine Viterale, who was poised to go one on one with the goalkeeper, at 0-0 was the highlight of a captain’s display from him and Head Coach Fandi Ahmad was suitably impressed.

“I’ve always had belief in him and I’m happy for him,” he said. “Despite not playing regularly in the last one-and-a-half years, he managed to control the defence very well and it was a classy goal from him, especially for a centre-back to run the length of the pitch to score that.”

The three points saw the Young Lions end a five-game losing run and move to second in the SPL standings.

Taufiq is keen for the team to keep their feet on the ground and build on a solid start, as they gear up for their next match against Warriors FC on Sunday (8 April).

“I’m halfway there getting over the difficult times in 2017 and I will still keep pushing myself to work even harder and there is definitely still room for improvement,” he asserted.

“Besides that, I feel that I wouldn’t have done it without the team. Everyone has been working equally hard and for the win, the team did well and gave their all!”

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