Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Opponent Watch: SAFFC

The month of April will see the Rams playing all their games away from Woodlands Stadium and this Thursday's "home match" against SAFFC will see our boys return to a pitch that has already hosted Woodlands success this season where they edged past Courts Young Lions on the opening day of the S.League season.

Former Ram Bah Mamadou will be looking to keep the Woodlands attack at bay
Photo Credit: FAS

This year's campaign hasn't been rosy for the Warriors so far, and SAFFC's 3 time S.League Coach Of The Year Winner, Richard Bok, will be asking his boys to work harder to get their campaign back on track. The Warriors are just ahead of the Rams in 8th position due to goal difference, although they have a game in hand.

Both teams come into this fixture on the back of a loss. Woodlands was unable to convert the chances they created against Hougang and allowed the visitors to leave with a flattering scoreline, while SAFFC were guilty of firing mostly blanks against Harimau Muda last weekend. Coincidentally, both players who scored the solitary goals for Woodlands (Goh Swee Swee) and SAFFC (Shimpei Sakurada) succeeded through headers which ricocheted off their opponents' crossbar.

Daniel Bennett - another former Woodlands player plying his trade for the Warriors now.
Photo Credit: FAS

The Warriors have the luxury of choosing between 2 experienced goalkeepers - Hassan Sunny and Sharil Jantan - to play between the sticks for them. On paper, SAFFC also has one of the strongest and most experienced defences in the league. Overcoming the quartet of Daniel Bennett, Razaleigh Khalik, Bah Mamadou and Noh Rahman may sound like a daunting task for many, but the Warriors have already let in a total of 14 goals this season - three more than Woodlands.

With all 4 defenders over the age of 30, quicker players may be looking to exploit the aging SAFFC defence. However, age may just be a figure for the experienced Bennett, whom, at 34, certainly doesn't show any signs of slowing down his game. With the loss of the pacy Shaiful Esah to the LionsXII squad at the start of the season, the SAFFC defence may have taken a knock but for what they lack in pace, they certainly make up for it with disciplined, no-nonsense defending.

Have no fear. Take their defence on and rip them to pieces!
Photo Credit: Andrew Him (The Black Sheep)

The lively Goh Swee Swee and the agile Hussein Akil should pose plenty of problems for the SAFFC backline, as the Young Lions did against the Warriors three weeks ago. Guntur Djafril would also relish the chance to play against his former club in the same week that he celebrates his birthday, and the nippy winger has shown plenty of pace this season that could come in handy for this match. Moon Soon-Ho should also not disappoint with his trickery on the ball.

The speedy Guntur will favour his chances against his former team.
Photo Credit: Andrew Him (The Black Sheep)

SAFFC is bursting at the seams with talent in a midfield boasting the likes of Mislav Karoglan, Shimpei Sakurada and Shukor Zailan. Bosnian Karoglan, who was deployed as a striker last season and won both the Top Scorer (33 goals after 23 matches) and Player of the Year awards, has gotten on the scoresheet 3 times already even though he has been dropped back deeper to help out in midfield.

All signs point to this match being won or lost depending on the victors of the tussle in the middle of the park. Our Rams must nullify the threat from the Warriors before it reaches the final third of our half, and feed our players with sufficient ammunition to constantly take shots on SAFFC's goal. Coach Salim has been rotating his midfield players as of late, depending on their performance in training, but we have faith in our midfielders and we are sure whoever starts will be aiming to give the Warriors the midfield battle of their lives. Both Armanizam Dolah or Han Yiguang will be considered for the central midfielder position and either player will form the crux of every attacking or defending move.

Mislav Karoglan - Key Man for SAFFC
Photo Credit: FAS

In the front, the Warriors pack plenty of firepower in the form of Fazrul Nawaz and Tatsuo Inui. Both forwards share a total of 5 goals between them and the Warriors would have been much higher in the table if their defence was more stable. The defensive pair of Daniel Hammond and Fabien Lewis will be looking forward to the challenge of protecting Ahmadulhaq Che Omar's goal and keeping a clean sheet against SAFFC. On the right, it is a toss up between K. Sathiaraj and Vincent Lee, while Edward Tan should deputize once again if Duncan Elias is still unfit for this match.

Are you ready for this cracker?

Match Information
Date: Thursday, 5th April, 2012 (7.45pm kick-off)
Venue: Jalan Besar Stadium
Tickets: $5.00 (Adult), $ 1.00 (Student)

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Photo Credit: Andrew Him (The Black Sheep)

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