News • February 20, 2016
Gusty Young Lions Hand Shock Defeat To Tigers
Written By: Shawn Lim
Garena Young Lions opened their Great Eastern Yeo’s S.League 2016 campaign with a win as they handed Balestier Khalsa a shock 1-0 defeat at Jalan Besar Stadium on Sunday night.
Few had given the Young Lions a chance of even earning a point before the game, but a solitary goal by Fareez Farhan in the first-half was enough for the Young Lions to hang on for all three points and prevent the Tigers from mustering any sort of comeback throughout the entire game.
After a nervy start where they committed a few mistakes which went unpunished, the hosts slowly settled into the game and could have opened the scoring when Gareth Low’s defence-splitting pass sent Hazim Faiz through on goal in the ninth minute.
However, the latter’s lack of composure saw him shoot straight at onrushing Balestier custodian Zaiful Nizam.
Three minutes later, a loose ball fell to Shah Hirul and the midfielder unleashed a piledriver at goal from 30 yards out, but Young Lions custodian Zharfan Rohaizad got down well to smother the ball.
The Young Lions found the breakthrough in the 23rd minute when captain Firdaus Kasman picked out Muhaimin Suhaimi on the right flank and the latter sent in a low cross for the onrushing Fareez to slide home the ball.
Balestier coach Marko Kraljevic, clearly unhappy with his side’s disjointed performance in the first-half made two changes at the interval, replacing Fazli Ayob and Fadhil Noh with Zulkiffli Hassim and Syafiq Zainal, with Jamil Ali moving to a more central role upfront alongside Miroslav Kristic.
The change in personnel seemed to rejuvenate the Tigers and they almost pulled level in the 57th minute, only for the woodwork to deny Syafiq’s chip shot from inside 18-yard box.
A minute later, Zharfan was required to thwart Zulkiffli’s thunderous drive at his near post after the winger had brushed off the attentions of his marker to drive forward into the box from the left flank.
Sensing that Balestier’s confidence had begun to grow, Young Lions interim coach Richard Tardy made two attacking changes midway through the second period, bringing on both Shafeeq Faruk and Muhelmy Suhaimi.
Like Balestier, the substitutions seemed to give the Young Lions a boost and they should have doubled their lead in the 69th minute when Hami Syahin tried a cheeky lob from the halfway line after spotting Zaiful off his line, but the ball flew just over the crossbar.
The Tigers continued to look dangerous as the game entered stoppage time, with the Young Lions thankful for two good saves from Zharfan in quick succession.
He first denied Shah from outside the box, before stopping Kristic’s half-volley from close range as the final whistle came shortly after.
Garena Young Lions interim coach Richard Tardy:
“We were missing many players for this game. Before the game, I told them this was like a Cup game – a fourth division team playing against a first division team… and they did what I wanted.
“I did not expect this result, but I’m very proud of this young team. We had many players coming up from the NFA (National Football Academy) and they showed what they’re capable of.”
Balestier Khalsa coach Marko Kraljevic:
“I am very disappointed with the result because we created enough chances to win the game, but in the final third, our final touch let us down.”
Garena Young Lions: Zharfan Rohaizad (GK), Marcus Wheeler (Muhelmy Suhaimi 61’), Ashrul Syafeeq, Rusyaidi Salime, Ammirul Emmran, Firdaus Kasman (C), Gareth Low, Fareez Farhan (Jonathan Tan 74’), Hazim Faiz (Shafeeq Faruk 56’), Hami Syahin
Balestier Khalsa: Zaiful Nizam (GK) (C) , Fadli Kamis, Hanafi Salleh, Sheikh Abdul Hadi, Ahmad Syahir, Emir Lotinac, Shah Hirul, Jamil Ali (Hazzuwan Halim 71’), Fazli Ayob (Zulkiffli Hassim 46’), Fadhil Noh (Syafiq Zainal 46’), Miroslav Kristic