YADANAR-GONE: Four-midable Home United Blitz Their Way Into Knockout Stage

Irfan Fandi celebrates his first AFC Cup goal with team-mates Faris Ramli and Afiq Yunos.
Photo: Home United Football Club



Paul Chew
Writer
The Unofficial S.League Podcast
sleaguepodcast@gmail.com  


Home United defeated Myanmar’s Yadanarbon FC last evening at Jalan Besar Stadium to progress through to the knockout stages of the AFC Cup.

The Protectors, who suffered their only defeat of the season so far in the reverse fixture against the Myanmar National League champions, looked determined to set the record straight as they applied the pressure from kick-off.

As early as the 3rd minute, Faris Ramli cut in from the wing, but his shot was smothered by Yadanarbok goalkeeper Pyae Lyan Aung.

Pyae was called into action again minutes later, denying Afiq Yunos from a corner. Yunos would not be denied though, notching the first goal of the game in the 12th minute, glancing home a header from Stipe Plazibat’s flick-on.

Barely a minute had passed before Faris Ramli was brought down in the box, following a Home United counterattack. Penalty given; Faris dusted himself off before sending the keeper the wrong way with a coolly-taken finish for his 4th goal of this season.

Yadanarbon were struggling to cope with Home, and on the rare occasions they ventured into Home’s final third, they couldn’t do enough to make their chances count. Some neat interplay down the wing in the 19th minute saw a cross floated into the Home penalty area, yet no Yadanarbon player was on hand to finish.

Barely threatening from open play, the champions of Myanmar must have fancied their chances from dead-ball situations instead. Vociferous claims for a Home United handball in the 23rd minute were ignored by the referee, and the resultant breakaway from the Protectors saw Faris Ramli clean through on the Yadanarbon goal. The keeper was more than equal to the task though, diverting the ball out for a corner.

Home’s aerial dominance in the penalty box had been a recurrent theme of the evening, and the uncertainty of the away team’s defenders was palpable as they lined up to defend the corner. Afiq Yunos would turn from scorer to provider, knocking down the ball for Irfan Fandi to rifle home from close range.

The Afiq-Irfan combination had been rocks in defence; strong in the air and quick on the ground, the Yadanarbon attackers had little joy going up against them. Now, they were combining in attack to present even more problems to Yadanarbon. Three goals up, the Protectors looked to have sealed their ticket out of the group stage.

All through the match, tempers had threatened to boil over after a few strong challenges and disputed calls from both teams. It all came to a flashpoint after Irfan Fandi shielded the ball from the onrushing Yan Paing.

The clearly displeased striker sank his studs onto Irfan’s knee, leaving the defender writhing in pain. Players from both sides squared up to each other as things got uglier. Unsurprisingly, Yan was shown a straight red card, but the aggression continued.

Home’s Sirina Camara was also given his marching orders, before a sense of order was restored to the proceedings.

The on-pitch drama saw four minutes of additional time at the end of the first half, and it was then that Yadanarbon managed to pull a goal back. Home custodian Hassan Sunny, who hadn’t had much to do prior to that, got down well to parry a shot. However, he could do little to stop Si Thu Aung from tucking in the rebound after the ball fell kindly at the Myanmar international’s feet.

After the fireworks of the first half, the second half was a completely different affair. Home were content to sit back and protect their two-goal lead, dropping deep and affording Yadanarbon very little space in the final third.

Although Yadanarbon enjoyed a great spell of dominance, they still could not find that final killer ball as Home defended resolutely. Thein Than Win smashed a shot way over the crossbar in the 50th minute, summing up how the team was restricted to shots from range.

Home United then applied the classic suckerpunch in the 72nd minute. Stipe Plazibat cut in from the flanks after his marker completely missed his interception, and an attempted lay-off to Faris was blocked. The ball bounced loose, and substitute Adam Swandi was in the right place to smash home from outside the box, the shot leaving the keeper with no chance as it found its way into the bottom left corner.

Faris had a golden opportunity to make it five in the 77th minute, but opted to go for the spectacular backheel rather than the straightforward finish, and missed the ball entirely.

As Yadanarbon heads started to drop and legs began to tire, Home pushed forward again. Stipe Plazibat’s 82nd minute free-kick clipping the foot of the post before going out – the Croat very unlucky not to add to his four-goal tally so far this AFC Cup campaign.

Yadanarbon’s Ye Ko Oo then earned himself a second booking in the dying minutes of the match to reduce the away team to nine men, but the damage had already been done long before that.

A comfortable 4-1 victory for Home in a dominant performance, and the Zonal Semifinals to look forward to. As the weeks pass, the Protectors’ aura of invincibility gets increasingly bigger, and if they play in the knockout stages like how they’ve been playing so far, they will be very optimistic regarding their chances in this continental competition.




Full-Time at Jalan Besar Stadium (18 April 2017):

Home United (Singapore) - 4
Yadanarbon FC (Myanmar) - 1

Scorers:

Home United - Afiq Yunos 12', Faris Ramli 16' (pen), Irfan Fandi 26',  Adam Swandi 72'
Yadanarbon FC - Si Thu Aung 45+2'




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