Thursday, February 22, 2007

Better things to come -- for sure

HUFC failed to secure a slot for the SingTel League Cup Finals. Well, look on the bright side - this could be like the FA Community Shield in the Premier League- whoever gets to win lose the league ha ha. It sure is a sign of better things to come !
This year's team is new and young, and from this tournament it is clear that they are a promising bunch. All they need is a few more matches to click and we will be a force to be reckoned with in the new Season. So look out S-League - The Protectors are back with a vengence and has our eyes on the title!
(article from
Wednesday, February 21, 2007
Woodlands cruise as Home fail to fire
Woodlands Wellington rolled through to the final of the SingTel League Cup with a 2-0 victory over a lacklustre Home United. On paper Home have assembled the most formidable-looking squad in the S.League this season, but the Protectors were second-best for much of the match at Woodlands Stadium.
Home coach Vincent Subramaniam signaled his intent when he named five of Singapore's victorious Asean Cup squad – Lionel Lewis, S Subramani, Shahril Ishak, Shi Jiayi and "The Icon" Indra Sahdan – in his starting line-up. Indra was joined up front by Qiu Li and Kengne Ludovick, forming a forward line that brought together three of the most impressive strikers in the S.League. For their individual threat though, the trio have yet to show much in the way of striking up an understanding in Home's two matches in the Cup so far. Even though playing without suspended influential midfielder Ahmad Latiff, Woodlands looked by far the more fluid team, led by Japanese midfielder Akihiro Nakamura. Former Young Lions keeper Fadhil Salim put on an assured performance in between the sticks for the home side after coming in for regular custodian Yazid Yasin.
The night began brightly for the 1,804 fans in attendance, as both teams traded punches and it was Nakamura who fired the first salvo with a well-struck long-range effort that was not far off the target. Indra though responded for the visitors when he out-sprinted the defence in the 10th minute. Woodlands defender Bah Mamadou however recovered in time and did just enough to unsettle the local hot-shot who shot wide. Traditionally a side that takes its time to settle into matches, the Rams looked vulnerable for a period after that, as Home enjoyed the lion’s share of possession.
In the 18th minute, the Protectors had an excellent chance to take the lead when Ludovick and Juma'at Jantan combined to release Indra, who had started the move himself. The 27-year-old marksman however fail to demonstrate his usual clinical touch when he stabbed the ball over the bar. In their previous match against the Korean Super Reds, Woodlands were remarkably composed in the face of pressure, largely due to the presence of Lucian Dronca shielding the back four from a defensive midfield position. The veteran Romanian was once again operating smartly in midfield, winning just about everything and making his opponents Shahril and Jiayi look like midfield greenhorns.
National team coach Raddy Avramovic, who was in the stands, would not have been impressed with the pair’s contributions on the night. Bearing the burden of Home's attack, Indra continued his one-man assault on the Woodlands goal when on 26 minutes, he smartly shielded the ball from his marker Azlan Alipah but pulled his shot wide.
Not to be outdone, fan favourite and reigning S.League Player of the Year Laakkad Abdelhadi responded in the 33rd minute when he shot wide from a flowing move that involving Park Tae Won and Azlan. Uplifted by their star striker’s efforts, the home side launched their own siege on the visitor’s goal and it paid off six minutes later. Ismadi Mukhtar’s corner was cleared to the edge of the area, and picked up by Home midfielder Shahril. The young Lion ill-advisedly lingered with his clearance though, and his dalliance allowed Nakamura to nick the ball off him and rolling it through invitingly for an unmarked Park. The silky Korean’s touch did not desert him with keeper Lionel at his mercy and slotted the ball into the bottom corner.
The confetti-fanfare celebrations had barely died down when three minutes later, Park’s spectacular volley forced a brilliant save from Lionel, who had to dive at full-stretch to tip the Korean's stinger behind. Home United stormed out after the restart and minutes into the second half, Indra had a gilt-edged chance to level the scores. Having beaten the defence for pace yet again, Indra was clean through with only Fadhil to beat. But the 24-year-old shot-stopper would not be denied a clean sheet however, rushing off his line and foiling the striker once more. Ludovick limped off in the 50th minute, and Ivorian winger Kone Hamed entered the contest. Hamed’s first contribution was to win a free-kick in a good area before he disappointingly skied his shot well over.
Indra's night of frustration continued in the 59th minute when his snapped shot was comfortably held by Fadhil. A goal to the good and never lacking composure or confidence, Woodlands held firm and extended their lead in the 66th minute.
On a quick counter, Park received the ball 30 metres out and smoothly threaded the ball through between Home's Subramani and Diakite Bangaly, to an awaiting Laakkad who timed his run to perfection. Keeper Lionel did get a hand to the Moroccan's flicked effort but the ball trickled past the goal-line to the delight of the Rams Army in the stands.
To Home’s credit they did not give up and continued to attack, but found Dronca in impervious form and defensive stalwarts Mamadou and Jerry Bartholomeusz a real stumbling block. With the two-goal lead, Woodlands played smart football, keeping possession well while keeping the visitors at bay. For all his hard running, his goal and the assist, Park hobbled off in the 85th minute to an appreciative ovation deserving of his Man-of-the-Match performance. The Protectors had a chance to pull a goal back two minutes later but Bangaly’s header struck the upright and the game drew to a close without incidence thereafter.
Rams coach Jorg Steinebrunner heaped praise on the team performance. "We were organised and we looked good going forward. Against opposition like Home United, with the squad they have, we knew what to expect," said the German. "But regardless of who the opponents are, I know that I don’t need to worry about the stars. Against the speed that we were up against, it is impossible for them not to attack us. "I am pleased because despite that, we contained them well and in the end, they did not get enough out of us," he continued. "We proved that as a team, if we remain united, if we play and fight for one another, we can succeed."
Woodlands Wellington 2 (Park Tae Won 39, Abdelhadi Laakkad 66) Home United 0 Lineups:Woodlands Wellington: Fadhil Salim, Bah Mamadou, Azlan Alipah (Hasrin Jailani 68), Lucian Dronca, Jerry Bartholomeusz, Abdelhadi Laakkad, Akihiro Nakamura (capt), Sazali Salleh, Imran Sahib, Park Tae Won (Yusri Waris 85), Zahid Ahmad
Home United: Lionel Lewis, Indra Sahdan, Juma’at Jantan, S Subramani (capt), Shi Jiayi, Kamarulariffin Abd Karim, Qiu Li (Goh Swee Swee 66), Kenge Ludovick (Kone Hamed 50), Rosman Sulaiman, Diakite Fode Bangaly, Shahril Ishak CautionsWoodlands Wellington: Fadhil Salim 89 Match OfficialsReferee: Abdul MalikAsst Referee 1: Haja MaidinAsst Referee 2: Rosli OmarFourth Official: P PandianReferee Inspector: Salikin SarkawiMatch Commissioner: Hanizam Aris Venue: Woodlands Stadium Match Attendance: 1,804
Copyright 2003, Football Association of Singapore. All rights reserved.

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