Singapore Premier League • July 23, 2018

Early Fukuda strike seals Warriors win against Young Lions


The Japanese defender’s header saw them beat Young Lions for the first time since 2017

Kento Fukuda (no. 5) celebrates his winning goal.

SINGAPORE, 22 JULY 2018 – Warriors FC recorded their fifth win of the Great Eastern-Hyundai Singapore Premier League (SPL) campaign after a 1-0 victory against Young Lions at the Choa Chu Kang Stadium on Sunday evening.

Despite both sides having numerous scoring opportunities, Kento Fukuda’s early goal was enough to seal maximum points for the home team.

The home side’s early pressure paid off on ten minutes when Tajeli Salamat stepped up and delivered a pinpoint free-kick from the right to allow Fukuda to power home a header, despite Zharfan Rohaizad getting a hand to it.

Fandi Ahmad’s team responded with a brief spell of dominance and got their first chance seven minutes later when Rusyaidi Salime outjumped the Warriors centre-backs, only to see his header go over the bar.

Just when things were on the up, the Young Lions were forced into a change when Amer Hakeem limped off with a hamstring injury to be replaced by Haiqal Pashia.

That move shifted the momentum back to the Warriors, who had two opportunities in quick succession.

Shamil Sharif’s 28th minute cross was waiting to be finished off in the box, but Behe failed to connect and the ball rolled out of play to the relief of Zharfan.

It was Firdaus Kasman’s turn two minutes later when he lofted a superb ball over the entire Young Lions defence to send Behe on his way, but Zharfan came off his line to block the Frenchman’s effort.

Young Lions went down the other end and won a free-kick that was taken by Rusyaidi. His ball found Nazhiim Harman at the far post before bobbling to Joshua Pereira. The latter’s shot was on its way in only for Hafiz Sulaiman to put in a last-ditch block.

Ikhsan Fandi was thrown on for the second period and the Young Lions fashioned a golden opportunity barely a minute in.

Hami Syahin received the ball from Haiqal and unleashed a shot that Mukundan Maran parried into the path of Naufal Azman, but the goalkeeper recovered well to block the latter’s goal-bound attempt.

Pushing forward meant that the Young Lions defence was left exposed and they were almost punished when Behe’s first-time volley on 59 minutes went past Zharfan, only for the linesman to rule it out for offside.

Young Lions’ upturn forced Mirko Grabovac into a defensive change as he brought on Delwinder Singh for Ammirul Emmran, but that did not turn the tide.

Ikhsan was next to test Mukundan in the 65th minute when his 20-yard free-kick was destined for the back of the net only for the stopper to palm it away for a throw-in.

Fukuda could have added a second goal for Warriors with 18 minutes left to play when a corner found him unmarked at the far post, but he planted his header into the side-netting.

The Young Lions huffed and puffed for the remainder of the game, but the Warriors defence led by Captain Fukuda held firm to ensure they stayed in fifth place in the standings and clinched their first win against the visitors since 2017.

Warriors defender Emmeric Ong: “It has been the same story for the past few games – we dominated, got the goal and didn’t put our chances away. But this time, we held on and saw out the win.

“I think finishing fifth is just a consolation, we would like to finish as high up the table as possible. So we’ll see if fourth or third place is possible, depending on other results.”

Young Lions midfielder Hami Syahin: “We were very unlucky to not get a point at least. We started badly in the first half but we picked ourselves up. As you can see in the second half, we went out there trying our very best to get at least a goal.

“We had a few chances but we didn’t convert it and that is football. It’s not about how many chances we have, but it’s about the goals that went in the back of the net.”

Warriors: Mukundan Maran (GK), Hafiz Sulaiman, Kento Fukuda (C), Ismadi Mukhtar, Emmeric Ong, Shamil Sharif (Suria Prakash 58’), Tajeli Salamat (Sahil Suhaimi 82’), Ammirul Emmran (Delwinder Singh 64’), Firudaus Kasman, Fadhil Noh, Jonathan Behe.
Unused subs: Hyrulnizam Juma’at (GK), Daniel Shafiq, Muhammad Aqil, Muhammad Nasiruddin.

Young Lions: Zharfan Rohaizad (GK), Nazhiim Harman, Amer Hakeem (Haiqal Pashia 27’), R. Aaravin, Rusyaidi Salime, Jacob Mahler, Joshua Pereira (C), Zulqarnaen Suzliman, Syahrul Sazali (Ikhsan Fandi 46’), Hami Syahin, Naufal Azman (Daniel Syafiq 80’).
Unused subs: Hairul Syirhan (GK), Syed Firdaus, Prakash Raj, Amirul Hakim.