Jia Hui Chicharito
|Photo: Chris Harvey|
Orlando 45’ (pen), 74’
A Muriel Orlando brace was enough for Malaysian Premier League (MPL) side Johor FA to see off the challenge of visitors Hougang United from the S.League as they emerged 2-0 winners in a international club friendly played on Tuesday night.
It was a tale of two halves as Hougang clearly dominated the first but it was Johor FA who took the stranglehold of the game in the second and eventually went on to win the game.
Ten minutes into the game, a Hougang counter saw the ball fall at Diallo’s feet but the forward could only fire a tame shot from 25 yards out straight into the keeper’s arms. Three minutes later, Diallo had an even better opportunity to open the scoring but was denied by some good goalkeeping after Jordan Webb had done well to play him through.
On the half-hour mark, Azhar Sairudin then tested Johor keeper K. Sasi Kumar but the custodian was equal to it and parried away to safety. Four minutes later, Yusri was clean on goal but Hougang’s Fadhil Salim was quick off his line to thwart the former’s attempt before Fadhil had to be alert again to dive down low to keep out Orlando’s attempt.
In the 41st minute, Hougang defender Hasree Zais wasted a golden opportunity to put the Cheetahs ahead when he could only send his header over the bar after breaking free of his marker in the six yard box.
But much against the run of play, it was Fandi Ahmad’s Johor FA who took the lead in front in first half stoppage time. Syaqir Sulaiman was adjudged to have tripped Johor FA’s Yusri Abas while attempting a clearance and the referee pointed to the spot. Up stepped Orlando as he sent Fadhil the wrong way as they took a slender one-goal lead into the break.
Probably boosted by that goal on the stroke of half-time, Johor FA came out of the break looking much more dangerous than they did in the first half, launching waves after waves of attacks at the Hougang goal.
In the 60th minute, Orlando got free down the left and shot but saw his effort clawed away by Fadhil and then cleared to safety by Faizal Amir. Ten minutes later, the same man managed to shrug off the challenge of Syaqir Sulaiman before dragging a shot just wide.
Orlando then grabbed his second of the night and sealed the win in the 74th minute. It was Ezrie with the through ball and the Argentinian scooped the ball over substitute goalkeeper Ridzuan Hasan and not even the desperate attempts from Syaqir could prevent the ball from crossing the line.
Diallo could have pulled one back for Hougang on 81 minutes after some good work on the right from Jordan Webb. However, Diallo’s shot in the six yard box was somehow kept out by Sasi Kumar’s foot at point-blank range.
To make matters worse, Hougang substitute Ridhwan Osman was then sent off with minutes remaining for a horrific tackle on a Johor FA midfielder.
Controlled first half
When asked for his immediate thoughts after the game, Hougang’s Nenad Bacina said: “Firstly, I’d like to congratulate Johor (FA).”
“In the first half, we played very well but we didn’t convert our chances. We (pretty much) controlled the first half and Johor did not have their first shot on target until about the 30th minute mark.”
“The first goal came after a small mistake from us. We will definitely try to work on it.”
This friendly was just part of Hougang’s preparations for their next league game against Tampines, as Bacina revealed.
“This game is part of preparations for our next game. However, we did not prepare for this game like how we would usually prepare for competitive matches. Like I said, we had hard training just yesterday and I’m happy with my boys.”
Despite suffering defeat, the Croat saw some positives from this game and at the same time, use this friendly to prepare for the remaining games of the season.
Not up to the mark
Fandi Ahmad, Johor FA’s team manager admitted that his team were not up to the mark in the first half but improved significantly in the second.
“In the first half, we did not play very well. I think the boys lost a bit of concentration. We gave them (Hougang) too much space on the ball. We also sat too deep which allowed Diallo and Webb to have a lot of room to run at.”
“In the first half, we did not press them enough in midfield. But in the second half, we started to press them and gradually started to control the game.”
“Other than that, it was an exciting affair. Hougang played very well.”
Hougang United: Fadhil Salim (Ridzuan Hasan 71’); Fazly Hasan (Faizal Amir 58’), Hasree Zais, Syaqir Sulaiman, Lau Meng Meng (C) (Sobrie Mazelan 77’); Fazli Jaffar (Nurhilmi Jasni 46’), Ante Barac (Ridhwan Osman 70’), Azhar Sairudin (Faliq Sudhir 78’), Jordan Webb; Mamadou Diallo, Basit Hamid
Unused sub: Farhan Rahmat (SOURCE)