Unheard, untried, undaunted: Lionesses romp to a 3-0 win

Photo: Murugan

Yeo Kheng Hui
Editor / Writer
The Unofficial S.League Podcast

By the time Woodlands Wellington's Wang Zhen Zhu made it 3-0 to Singapore, the game was long over, and the hundred-odd fans in attendance knew it.

Macau were disciplined in defence, holding their lines against the youthful red tide, but the hosts began pressing high and early. Warriors FC striker Kamaliah Hashim linked well with club mates Stephanie Dominguez and Lim Li Xian to keep the Macanese on the back foot as early as the second minute.

Lim's pace down the right and Dominguez' trickery on the left of midfield would give rise to many raids, and by Macau's first corner on 14 minutes, the Warriors players had each tested Chong Hio Leng once.

Club-mate Joey Cheng would sting Chong's gloves twice more with free kicks from range, before Changi Village SRC's Ernie Sulastri would have her say - a dipping shot from outside the area that just cleared the bar.

40 minutes had passed before Singapore scored. Ernie won a freekick just outside the penalty box. Cheng would have scored, but Chong palmed the ball off the bar. Dominguez played the ball back in for captain Izyani Noorghani, who side-footed it into goal.

By that time, Singapore had already made their first change, with 18-year-old Shaahidah Zulkifli being taken off for Wang. It was Wang who pounced first on a sloppy save by Chong in the 51st minute, but only slipped the ball wide.

The hosts would continue to torment Macau for a full half hour, chasing every lost ball and exploiting every mis-step from the ladies in green. Even after Warriors stalwarts Kamaliah and Dominguez were taken off, there was no respite for the Macau side.

On 79 minutes, substitute striker Raudhah Kamis played the ball to Wang. As the ball seemed to bounce off her hand, the Macanese blinked. This gave Lim time to attempt a chip from 30 metres out. The new Macau keeper, Chao Tsz Wai, watched the ball sail over her into the net.

The final goal was again due to a goalkeeping error from Chao. She charged out but missed the ball, and Wang slid it home to round off the evening.

Looking ahead

Having already been eliminated from the current East Asian Football Federation tournament (EAFF E-1), the Macau side were here to "see where we can improve" and "train up our team", and had plans to prepare ahead of the next edition.

"Of course the Singapore team, the performance is better than us, their level is also higher than us, so we learned a lot from the game and the team," Chio said. "I'm satisfied with the game and the result."

Singapore coach K. Balagumaran praised his charges for carrying out the FA's planned tactics well. "The way we want to play football, you know, building up from the back, being patient... since I took over, we've worked on that... We played the way we want to play."

"Every club has their own way of playing, but they can easily adopt to the way we want to play, you know, that's something good about this team," he pointed out when asked about the diverse selection policy. Balagumaran also praised the team's commitment as amateurs, training late into the evening after work.

"We're looking at the next SEA Games... that's our goal." Balagumaran noted that Singapore had plenty of catching up to do with regional rivals like Vietnam and Thailand. "In these two years, with more exposure, I believe this team, they can do something."

Singapore depart today for Malaysia ahead of their friendly match at Stadium UiTM in Shah Alam on Thursday evening.

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