|Photo: ST He Photography|
Sobrie Mazelan 14' , Jordan Webb 40', Stanislav Vidakovic 55'
The poor start to the Courts Young Lions’ Great Eastern-YEO’S S.League 2012 season continues as they succumbed to their second defeat in a row at Jalan Besar Stadium on Friday evening.
If their 0-1 loss to Woodlands Wellington last week was unlucky, though, the 0-3 defeat to Hougang United this time was a clear washout.
Sobrie Mazelan opened the scoring for the Cheetahs after just 14 minutes, before Jordan Webb and Stanislav Vidakovic added further goals either side of the interval to sink the Young Lions to the foot of the league table.
Nonetheless, Young Lions coach Robin Chitrakar put on a brave front when he addressed the media afterwards.
“To concede three goals is definitely disappointing, but I think my boys tried their best and fought till the very end,” he said.
A heavy defeat would be the last thing to cross the mind of the one-time assistant national coach going into this match.
The Young Lions received a timely boost when former Etoile players Jonathan Toto and defensive midfielder Sirina Camara were cleared to play, after their relevant legal paperwork was settled and they were given permission to continue plying their trade in Singapore.
Rather than starting both right away, though, Chitrakar opted to field Toto in his familiar position up front, aided by quick flankers in the form of the Benjamin Kristoffersen Lee and former Home United star Sherif El-Masri, while keeping Camara on the bench first.
It was thought that the absence of former Etoile poacher Toto in their last home defeat explained their lack of bite in front of goal, as chances created by Lee, El-Masri and their colleagues on that occasion could not be put away.
Yet even with the 21-year-old’s inclusion, that problem persisted as he struggled to make an impact, and things were made that bit trickier by some constant shuffling in the players’ positioning.
It was clear the players could not adapt quickly enough as the Young Lions fell further and further behind, yet Chitrakar had an explanation at hand for doing what he did.
“We must have players who are able to swap positions at any time (in the match); a guy who starts at wide left doesn’t have to stay there throughout,” he remarked, adding that this was important for shaping players into all-round individuals.
“If we are to develop football and play in a way that focuses on build-up play and good football, we will definitely make mistakes, especially with young players. But we have to.”
Growing pains these are, then, and that lack of experience may explain the three goals the Young Lions conceded, as their backline proved lax in their defending.
Ten minutes later, Webb missed what many saw as the chance of the evening when his low driver from the right, coming off an Azhar Sairudin play, brushed inches past the post.
The Canadian redeemed himself five minutes from the break, Azhar again proving instrumental in helping Hougang double their lead.
Chesting the ball down from Azhar’s orchestration, Webb proceeded to beat a porous Young Lions defence and round Syazwan Buhari before steering the ball into the net.
The Hougang supporters cheered the second goal with extra enthusiasm, coming as it did in a move that caught the defence flat-footed.
They had more to sing for as the Croatian combination of Ante Barac and Vidakovic consigned Chitrakar’s charges to a night of misery ten minutes into the second half.
Toto had an opportunity to reduce the deficit on 80 minutes when his effort in the box was miraculously cleared off the line by defender Faizal Amir, after former National Football Academy trainee Ng Jia Fa was unable to clear on his first attempt.
Ng was lining up against his former coach Chitrakar after regular goalkeeper Ridzuan Fatah Hassan failed to recover in time from a knock picked up against Tanjong Pagar United last week, and for the most part had a good outing.
“Thank you very much for reminding me about him!” laughed his current coach Nenad Bacina when asked on the 19-year-old’s work for the day.
“I think Jia Fa had done very well and played his part in this game tonight. I knew that he can do the job after seeing him play for the full 90 minutes in one of our friendly games in Malaysia recently, and he proved me right today.”
The former Woodlands coach was also gracious in victory, speaking well of his opponents despite beating them by a clear 3-0 margin.
“It was not an easy game, in fact it was a hard and competitive game against the Young Lions,” he said.
“This Young Lions team is a side with good young players, they are a well-organised team under a good coach I know well. That’s why we are happy that we managed to beat them.
“I believe other teams playing them are also going to face the same problem. In fact they can only get better!”
Chitrakar meanwhile came to Toto’s defence despite the striker failing to help his new employers break their goalscoring duck on his Young Lions debut.
“It was his first game of the season, and I think he gave everything and tried his best in tough situations like this, trying to hold up play for us to allow us to play,” said the 35-year-old.
“He has to adapt to our system, it is not like what he played in before. Definitely, it will take some time before he and the rest of the foreign players play the same way we do.” - (SOURCE)