Match Report - NFL Friendly: Yishun Sentek Mariners vs Singapore Khalsa Association - 26 March 2017


Shamsurin (in green) last turned out for Woodlands Wellington in the S.League in 2012

Billed as potential contenders to the 2017 NFL Division 1 title, Yishun Sentek Mariners certainly lived up to that reputation by routing NFL Division 2 outfit Singapore Khalsa Association with an astronomical 8-0 scoreline on Sunday.

Both sides only started their warm-ups 15 minutes after the scheduled kick-off due to the triggering of the Lightning Warning System at Clementi Stadium, giving this writer some time to pore over the impressive team sheet that the Sea Eagles (Yishun's nickname) had.

Yishun had done well to retain their core players from last season - former S.League players Shahir Hamzah (Hougang United) and Shamsurin Abdul Rahman (Woodlands Wellington) - while boosting their attacking ranks with the likes of Balestier Khalsa speedster Zulkiffli Hassim and GFA Sporting Westlake's Zul Feshal, who finished last season as 2nd top scorer in the NFL Division 1. Yishun also bolstered their back-line by snapping up brothers Faliq Sudhir and Haziq Sudhir from the 2016 Division 1 champions, Eunos Crescent, a testament to their ambition to lift the title this season.

Yishun's Nur Na'iim (in green) tussling for the ball with a Khalsa player.

Yishun had a chance as early as the 2nd minute as Zulkiffli threaded a through ball to Shamsurin inside the penalty box but a timely tackle cut the striker off before he could pull the trigger.

Singapore Khalsa Association nearly opened the scoring three minutes later when a thumping free kick from 30 metres out rocked the crossbar with Yishun custodian Asyraf Asyfar beaten.

The thrust and parry between both sides in the middle of the park would last for another nine minutes before Yishun's first corner of the game was headed home by Faliq Sudhir in the 14th minute of the game.

That goal seemed to have given Yishun newfound confidence as they passed the ball around the park without much headway made by Khalsa, eventually leading to a second goal in the 23rd minute when Rafiq Jamal blasted the roof of the net after being fed with a nice through ball.

Khalsa's defence was torn apart just two minutes later when a low cross from the left found Yishun striker Amirul wide open in the box, who gleefully put it away for the third goal.

With Yishun playing a quick passing game, Khalsa was in sixes and sevens and they should have been punished by Nur Na'iim who was in a central scoring position but Zulkiffli's pass was unfortunately played behind the central midfielder, who despite his best efforts, couldn't stretch enough to wrap his foot around the ball.

Yishun won most of the aerial battles that day.

Zulkiffli, who was popping up everywhere in the first half, nearly scored a goal of his own when he attempted a bicycle kick but was unlucky to have sliced the ball out for a goal kick. The former Singapore Cup winner made up for his miss just one minute later by rounding the Khalsa keeper for a simple tap-in.

Asyraf was then called into action in the 43rd minute when he came off his line to snuff off a dangerous looking Khalsa through ball to help the Sea Eagles head into the half time break with a 4-0 lead.

Khalsa came out looking hungrier in the second half but they found it hard to break down a stubborn Yishun defence due to Faliq Sudhir's excellent marshaling of the Northerners' backline.

The Khalsaites nearly extended the lead for Yishun when a terrible back pass in the 63rd minute put their custodian under a whole lot of pressure but he managed to clear it out for a throw-in before any green shirt could get to it.

They were not so lucky two minutes later when Shahir Hamzah capped off Shamsurin's brilliant through pass by placing it into the net for the fifth goal.

Khalsa's players found it hard to break down the mighty Yishun fortress.

Shamsurin then turned goal scorer himself by sending the keeper the wrong way in the 68th minute after a penalty was given when a Yishun player was pulled back while clean through on goal.

Khalsa had another chance to score in the 70th minute when Asyraf missed his catch at the far post over their first corner of the game but the Khalsaites seemed to have given up at the point of the game with only two players at the near post. Khalsa then tried another prospecting shot two minutes later that whistled a mere foot past the crossbar.

Asyraf then made amends for his earlier gaffe by pulling off a wonderful save from point blank range in the 75th minute, keeping his clean sheet and preventing Khalsa from scoring a consolation goal.

Nur Na'iim celebrates Yishun's eighth goal in style.

Khalsa were then made to pay for their profligacy in the 80th minute when substitute Hidayat Rohaizat's rasping drive from the edge of the box bulged Khalsa's net and Nur Nai'iim topped off the icing on the cake with a sweet strike for goal number eight. The central midfielder also displayed outstanding awareness as he knew exactly where the match photographer was, celebrating in his direction, which resulted in the great photo above.

The Sea Eagles have lined up more friendlies in the month of April and they are scheduled to play a S.League team. We will release more news on our Facebook Page and Twitter in due time once the friendly fixtures are confirmed.

Full-Time at Clementi Stadium - NFL Friendly (26 March 2017):

Yishun Sentek Mariners (NFL Division 1) - 8
Singapore Khalsa Association (NFL Division 2) - 0

Scorers:
Yishun: Faliq Sudhir 14', Rafiq Jamal 23', Amirul 25', Zulkiffli Hassim 38', Shahir Hamzah 65', Shamsurin Rahman (Pen) 60', Hidayat Rohaizat 80', Nur Na'iim 85'

Please find the match album here.



Article: Aaron Chan | Photos: Andrew Him
All copyrights © 2017 are attributed to the respective contributors above. Players may use the photos and articles; for all other parties, please contact our page at sleaguepodcast@gmail.com for permission.

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