Singapore Premier League • April 11, 2014

White Swans Down Young Lions In Tense Affair


Written By: Kenneth Ho

Courts Young Lions continued their woeful form in the 2014 Great Eastern Yeo’s S.League as they were edged out 2-1 by Albirex Niigata at Jalan Besar Stadium on Thursday evening

Even though Jordan Webb pulled a late goal back for the hosts, an own goal by Sherif El Masri and a Kazuki Sakamoto goal condemned the Young Lions to their sixth loss in seven games this season,

With a host of injuries denying Young Lions coach Aide Iskandar his usual back four, the coach went for a unique starting line-up as forward Sherif El Masri was asked to play in the left-back position while Sahil Suhami was given his first start of the season after he passed the league’s mandatory fitness test.

However, the gamble to play El Masri in defence would prove to be part of the host team’s undoing as the young Canadian looked shaky playing in an unnatural position throughout the match.

This was evident early on when El Masri’s back header forced his own custodian, Syazwan Buhari to react swiftly and tip the ball over his own crossbar in the 5th minute.

After many wasteful shots from distance from the hosts, calamity struck in the 18th minute when El Masri cleared Kento Nagasaki’s cross into his own goal.

The Young Lions did have a chance to level the game just before the break when Muhaymin Salim did well to find the mark with his rising shot from the left channel, but Albirex goalkeeper Kenjiro Ogino was equal to the task.

The White Swans came out stronger after the break and nearly extended their lead three minutes in.

Kento fashioned some space for himself before unleashing a stinger at goal but a stretching Syazwan managed to get a hand to the ball.

However, Syazwan was left helpless to deny Albirex their second goal just after the hour mark.

Spotting Kazuki’s run, his teammate Kazuya Okazaki lofted in a through ball for the striker and Kazuki rounded Syazwan to have an easy finish into an unguarded net.

The Japanese could have gotten his second when he found himself in a similar situation again but this time Syazwan managed to thwart Kazuki with a fine stop.

Despite the two-goal deficit, the hosts managed to score a consolation goal three minutes from time.

Substitute Muhaimin Suhaimin swung in a cross which picked out Jordan Webb, and the 26-year-old thumped in a header beyond Kenjiro to briefly lift the Young Lions’ hopes of a comeback.

Subsequently five minutes of added time was given, but Albirex held firm to achieve their third win in four games.