GFA Sporting Westlake Off To Winning Start Against Defending Champions

GFA Sporting Westlake skipper Hakim Abdullah celebrates his goal.
Photo: FAS National Football League

Lucas Julian
Guest Contributor
Samurai Pte Ltd (NFL Sponsor)

The 2017 National Football League Division One curtain raiser saw last season’s champions Eunos Crescent FC go head to head with GFA Sporting Westlake FC and the defending champions were looking to grab all three points and begin their title defence on a strong note. 

Eunos Crescent boasted the likes of former Balestier Khalsa player Jonathan Xu as their skipper as well as former Woodlands Wellington forward Goh Swee Swee and had an impressive bench which included national veteran Indra Sahdan. 

However, not all went well with Eunos’s title defence hopes as Sporting Westlake started a strong side to hopefully evoke an upset upon the defending champions and Eunos let in a shock goal barely moments after kick-off when Raqib Razak's careless pass across his defence saw it being intercepted by the prowling Hakim Abdullah, who slotted it home to the bottom left corner in composed fashion to give the Young Samurais the lead inside 16 seconds. 

With the early goal, GFA Sporting Westlake controlled the opening minutes of the game and seemed hungry for a second goal with Hazzliryn Halim speeding down the wings to terrorize the Eunos defence early on. 

Jumari Semin slotting home the second goal from the penalty spot.
Photo: FAS National Football League

Eunos seemed disoriented as they rallied each other to stay focused despite the early setback but things unfortunately did not get better for the Easterners as they conceded a penalty in the 9th minute due to a handball by Raqib and the spot kick was duly converted by 43 year old Jumari Semin, who sank it into the bottom left corner to make it 2-0. 

The Young Samurais were greatly exploiting spaces left unguarded by a struggling Eunos side who found it difficult to build up their play and Kazuyuki Tachibana impressed by consistently containing Firdaus Junadi, who is known for his fast pace. Eunos's frustration was evident when reckless tackles flew in towards the end of the first half. 

The second half saw the defending champions display more grit as they looked to get back in the game and former national forward Indra Sahdan came on in the 48th minute to lead a hopeful comeback against Sporting Westlake. 

Safwan Ramlan pulled one back for Eunos Crescent when he unleashed a long range effort in the 65th minute which ricocheted off the unfortunate Tachibana into the back of the net and the Easterners were beginning to expose the flaws of the Young Samurai's defence. 

Jonathan Xu skips pasts Tachibana's sliding challenge.
Photo: FAS National Football League

The game seemed to balance on both fronts towards the dying minutes of the game and Indra came awfully close to equalising with a last minute free-kick, only to see his effort headed away by a defiant GFA Sporting Westlake defence. 

At the referee’s final whistle, the Young Samurais recorded an important win against the defending champions, signalling their intent to take their game to the next level this season with an impressive 2-1 display.

Full-Time at Jalan Besar Stadium - NFL Division 2 (22 April 2017):

Eunos Crescent - 1
GFA Sporting Westlake - 2


Eunos Crescent  - Kazuyuki Tachibana 65' (OG)
GFA Sporting Westlake - Hakim Abdullah 1', Jumari Semin 10' (pen)

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