Monday, May 21, 2012

Reaction: Kanbawza FC vs Woodlands

When Kanbawza FC coach PN Sivaji was approached by the swarm of reporters after his side's win over Woodlands Wellington, the former Lions coach certainly did not mince his words.

"I’m surprised at the luxury of space we’re given in an expected high-tempo Cup affair, Woodlands made us look good by sitting back and letting us dictate." said Sivaji. "If there was pressure in midfield from the start, then we would have found ourselves under real threat." [source: &]

Kanbawza coach PN Sivaji in a pre-match interview.
Photo Credit: Andrew Him (The Black Sheep)

Had the Rams started off with a more attack-minded approach, Soe Min Oo's early goal could have been prevented. Instead, Woodlands back-peddled from the starting whistle and allowed Kanbawza to run at them, giving Myanmar international Soe just enough space to cut through the defence and send a deflected shot past the stranded Ahmadulhaq, sending the partisan Burmese crowd into rapture as early as the third minute.

Soe Min Oo (left) scoring the first goal for Kanbawza
Photo Credit: Andrew Him (The Black Sheep)

Once again, we found ourselves in familiar territory, falling behind to a soft goal and spending the rest of the game looking to overturn the score.      

From Sivaji's post-match comments, it was evident that Kanbawza's Achilles heel lay in their midfield. Unfortunately, we failed to take advantage of that and allowed their influential Brazilian midfielder, Nunes Tercio, to control the game. We hardly troubled the Kanbawza goal in the first half and it was painful to watch the Burmese side send wave after wave of attack on our goal while Myanmar's first choice goalkeeper, Kyaw Zin Htet, was practically smacking mosquitoes around his six yard box.

Daniel Hammond was busy all night dealing with Kanbawza's crosses and punts
Photo Credit: Andrew Him (The Black Sheep)

Armanizam Dolah would have been a formidable opponent for Nunes, but he did not start the game along with winger Guntur Djafril. Both regulars were also not named on the subs bench for reasons unknown. Moon Soon-Ho cut a lone figure upfront as Hussein Akil was deployed as a deep lying playmaker. Akil's pace in the final third was sorely missed and Goh Swee Swee had to work doubly hard down the flank. Farizal Basri tried to hold up the ball for the rest of the team to push up on the occasional counterattack we had but he was outnumbered every time by the Kanbawza defence.

Fervent "home" support for Kanbawza
Photo Credit: Andrew Him (The Black Sheep)

Although the Burmese did not play pretty football, they were disciplined and played well as a unit, effectively shutting out the Rams for the entire first half. They came out for the second half continuing where they left off, their continued pressure on the Rams goal gifting them a penalty in the 61st minute which was subsequently converted by Nunes to give the Burmese side a two goal cushion.

Hussein Akil put in another tireless performance, but could have caused more damage upfront.
Photo Credit: Andrew Him (The Black Sheep)

Moon Soon-Ho did give the "away" crowd something to cheer about in the 65th minute when he sent his penalty into the top right corner of the goal after he was felled by goalkeeper Kyaw, bringing the Korean marksman's tally to 6 goals so far this season.

Moon sends Kyaw the wrong way.
Photo Credit: Andrew Him (The Black Sheep)

This seemed to have given the Rams some hope as they started firing on all cylinders in search for an equalizer. Duncan Elias and Goh Swee Swee starting pushing up the flanks, Han Yiguang was brought in to stabilize the midfield, while Daniel Hammond was pushed forward as a striker to take advantage of his towering frame. Han was particularly impressive, putting in a crucial challenge on Soe when the latter was clear on goal and preventing a larger deficit for the Rams.

Swee Swee piling on the pressure on Kanbawza's Nyana Lwin.
Photo Credit: Andrew Him (The Black Sheep)

The Rams were left disappointed by some dubious refereeing as Moon Soon-Ho, latching on to a dangerous through ball, was punched on the head by Kanbawza's Ghanian defender Samuel Hanson with a right hook that Mike Tyson would have been proud of. Referee Mohd Taqi stopped play to award a free kick to Woodlands but it should have been an immediately sending off for Hanson. Instead, Taqi kept his cards in his pocket much to the chagrin of the Woodlands supporters.

In the stands, "Siapa Bilang Singapura LionsXII" rang out loudly as the Black Sheep sang their hearts out to voice their displeasure of S.League players being overlooked for the national squad in response to the largely criticised announcement of almost 60% of LionsXII players making up the Singapore team.

"Siapa Bilang Singapura LionsXII" - outnumbered but not outsung.
Photo Credit: FAS

Fight as the Rams could in the final quarter, it all came too little too late as Kanbawza held on for a narrow win to progress to the next round to play Loyola Meralco Sparks in the quarter finals.

As the curtain fell on a nail biting last 20 minutes, sportsmanship was the order of the day as the Black Sheep stood up and applauded the Burmese fans in the home stands, which was swiftly reciprocated with cheers and loud clapping back at us.

KBZ supporter Sean Hein had this to say after the game: "Even though I was supporting KBZ as a Burmese, I love the Rams' supporters. Hope they do well in S. League!"

The human spirit prevails above all.

We sincerely wish KBZ all the best in their Singapore Cup campaign!

The Rams will be taking a three week break before our next league next fixture against Courts Young Lions in the opener of the 2nd half of the Yeo's Great Eastern S.League. 

In the meantime, the team will also be taking on Johor FA in a friendly match on 22 May 2012 at 5:30pm at Woodlands Stadium. Stay tuned for our opponent watch!

Dimana mana kita saudara (We are brothers everywhere!)
Photo Credit: Aaron Chan (The Black Sheep)

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