Saturday, March 3, 2012

Reaction: Woodlands vs Albirex

Photo Credit: Andrew Him (The Black Sheep)

"Cruel game I would say, but that is football." said Ram's assistant coach Clement Teo as he gave his thoughts during a post match interview with Judging by the brave display put up by our boys, who showed exemplary discipline by following coach Salim's game plan diligently, it was a cruel result indeed.

With both teams evenly matched throughout the 90 minutes and the game seemingly headed towards a nil-nil stalemate, Albirex's Yasuhiro Yamakoshi broke the deadlock with virtually the last kick of the game by slotting home the winner towards the tail end of the 92nd minute after a mix up between custodian Ahmadulhaq Che Omar and centre back Fabien Lewis. It is interesting to note that Albirex had scored 7 goal prior to this match, 3 against SAFFC and 4 against a hapless Tanjong Pagar before the international break. 

Armanizam Dolah's performance in the middle of the park was promising. Raddy, are you watching?
Photo Credit: Andrew Him (The Black Sheep)

Despite failing to keep a clean sheet, we can take heart from the fact that our boys made it extremely difficult for Albirex to score against us. The resilient backline of Daniel Hammond, Fabien Lewis, K. Sathiaraj and Duncan Elias, broke down almost every attacking move from the Japanese outfit, and even the in-form Toshikazu Soya found it impossible to perforate the Rams' backline. Soya had scored a total of three goals in the previous two league matches coming into this match and was widely tipped to score in this game as well. Instead, he was frustrated time and again and was eventually replaced with Yamakoshi in the 85th minute, a move which proved to be crucial for the White Swans. 

Swee Swee's tackles and running were full of commitment.
Nothing is going to stop this Ram, not even mighty Albirex!
Photo Credit: Andrew Him (The Black Sheep)

Although Woodlands seemed to be playing a more defensive game as compared to Albirex, the post match statistics showed otherwise. Woodlands had 10 shots on goal, just 2 shy of Albirex's 12 shots. There were definitely chances which fell the Rams' way, such as Hussein Akil's one-two with the hardworking Guntur Djafril which ended in a stinging shot from the young Australian and an equally good save from Albirex goalkeeper Takuma Ito to keep the shot out. Moon Soon-Ho's looping lob shot late in the second half also had the crowd holding their breath and it was definitely on its way in until Ito tipped it over for a corner.

Shamsurin was another player who worked his socks off to neutralize the threat of the Albirex midfield.
Photo Credit: Andrew Him (The Black Sheep)

In addition to our steadfast defence, a special mention also goes out to our hardworking wingers Goh Swee Swee and Guntur Djafril, both whom chased every ball down the flanks tirelessly, and the promising "Balestier Boys" pair of Armanizam Dolah and Shamsurin Abdul Rahman, whose gutsy tackles and timely headers protected the back four by snuffing out Albirex's attempt to connect their passes to their strikeforce. Armanizam had a resplendent match and showed glimpses of former captain Goh Tat Chuan's commanding performances in the middle of the park for the Rams back in the mid-noughties.

Guntur Djafril was ever present in both attack and defence.
Photo Credit: Andrew Him (The Black Sheep)

When referee Sukhbir Singh blew the final whistle moment after Yamakoshi's goal, we stood up with pride and sang with all our might. Our boys had put up a brave fight and we made sure we let them know that we appreciated their hard work on the field. Sure, it would have been a fair result if the match ended in a draw but as Clement Teo says, this is football. Nonetheless, we were still proud of our Rams and the endearing performance against the strong Japanese only served to strengthen our resolution of shaking off last season's tag of wooden spoonist and taking the form of serious title contenders at the other end of the spectrum.

"Big Boss" Ahmadulhaq was equal to the task of snuffing out the dangerous Albirex attack.
Photo Credit: Andrew Him (The Black Sheep)

With Harimau Muda and Hougang United both notching victories over Tanjong Pagar and Geylang United respectively, we slip from second place down to fourth place as we dust ourselves off and look forward to next week's match against Tampines Rovers at their new "home ground" - Clementi Stadium.

It doesn't matter if we win, lose or draw. We love our Rams, and we'll definitely
be back for more. Bring on the Stags, we say! Bila Bila Woodlands!
Photo Credit: Aaron Chan (The Black Sheep)

Bring on the stags, I say. We will put up a good fight, just as we did against the league leaders. The familiar echoes of Bila Bila Woodlands and Kambing Power will resonate through Clementi as our Rams head out of the tunnel to face Tampines next Friday. Never surrender!

No comments:

Post a Comment