Singapore Premier League • April 8, 2018

Irfan Fandi winner sends Young Lions top of SPL


The centre-back struck the only goal to down Warriors FC and make it two victories in a row

Irfan Fandi celebrates after scoring for the Young Lions against Warriors FC.

SINGAPORE, 8 APRIL 2018 – The Young Lions soared to the top of the Great Eastern-Hyundai Singapore Premier League (SPL) table after edging 10-man Warriors FC 1-0 at the Choa Chu Kang Stadium on Sunday evening.

It was also the first time they had won two games in a row since October 2014, when they defeated Hougang United FC and Woodlands Wellington FC.

After a goal-less first half, Irfan Fandi’s header after the break was enough to help the developmental side earn three points and continue their fine start to the season.

In the absence of the injured Jonathan Behe, new signing Sahil Suhaimi made his competitive debut as he led the line for Warriors and from his free-kick inside the opening minute, Fadhil Noh’s header was tipped onto the bar by Young Lions custodian Zharfan Rohaizad.

Suria Prakash fired wide off Ho Wai Loon’s corner in the 13th minute before Sahil hit a free-kick straight at Zharfan 10 minutes later.

The game then petered out until a frantic final five minutes of the half.

In the 41st minute, Warriors goalkeeper Fashah Iskandar pushed Rusyaidi Salime’s 25-yard free-kick onto the upright before similar drama ensued at the other end.

The woodwork denied Poh Yi Feng and Fadhil in quick succession on 44 minutes, then an unmarked Sahil somehow nodded over at the far post.

Captain Kento Fukuda’s header flew the wrong side of the post two minutes after the restart and the hosts were eventually made to pay for their profligacy.

Rusyaidi’s excellent free-kick delivery on 54 minutes was met at the far post with a thumping header by Irfan to send the Young Lions supporters wild.

Hami came close to doubling the lead for the visitors on the hour mark with an effort that sailed narrowly over the bar following some good work from Naqiuddin Eunos down the left.

Warriors piled on the pressure in the closing stages with Fukuda pushed upfront as an emergency striker in search of an equaliser, but they still found it hard going against a stout Young Lions defence.

It got worse when substitute Delwinder Singh was dismissed for a second bookable offence after a late challenge on Hami four minutes from time.

There was one final chance for Warriors to salvage a point, but Fukuda flicked Ho’s corner against the post to sum up a frustrating night for the nine-time league champions.

The victory propelled the Young Lions to the top of the SPL standings after two games played, while Warriors find themselves in sixth with one point from the same amount of matches played.

What they said
Warriors Head Coach Mirko Grabovac: “For me, this game was the same as the last one where we had so many chances but couldn’t finish them. If we don’t take our chances, we will get punished and that’s what happened today. We still don’t have the striker who can score the goals and we definitely missed Behe upfront.

“Man to man, we also had some problems and our wingers lacked the confidence to put the ball into the box. I am a little disappointed with the result but not the performance and I believe we can only get better from here when our injured players return.”

Young Lions Head Coach Fandi Ahmad: “The secret behind this good run (of form) is the teamwork and fighting spirit showed by the boys today. It was tough playing against a good team like Warriors who pushed us really high up and didn’t allow us to play our style of football. But we grew into the game and the second half was better.

“We capitalised on set-pieces and scored from that, which is something we have used to our advantage with the header from Irfan being a superb one.

“It’s only two games into the season but credit has to be given to the boys who have to stay focused and keep their feet on the ground.”

Warriors: Fashah Iskandar (GK), Emmeric Ong, Kento Fukuda (C), Hafiz Sulaiman (Nur Luqman 64’), Ismadi Mukhtar, Fadhil Noh (Delwinder Singh 55’), Ammirul Emmran, Poh Yi Feng (Firdaus Kasman 74’), Ho Wai Loon, Suria Prakash, Sahil Suhaimi.
Unused subs: Mukundan Maran (GK), Fazli Shafie, Shamil Sharif, Daniel Shafiq.

Young Lions: Zharfan Rohaizad (GK), Prakash Raj (Aniq Iskandar 82’), Taufiq Muqminin (C), Irfan Fandi, Zulqarnaen Suzliman, Rusyaidi Salime, Hami Syahin (Ifwat Ismail 84’), Joshua Pereira, Naqiuddin Eunos (Adam Hakeem 90’+2), Syahrul Sazali, Ikhsan Fandi.
Unused subs: Hairul Syirhan (GK), Naufal Azman, Ariyan Shamsudin, R. Aaravin.

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