Warriors FC’s breakthrough for their first win of the Great Eastern-YEO’S S.League season came about after their opponents, Geylang International, had failed to capitalize on abundant first half chances while the visiting team slowly, but surely, pushed on to victory.
The 3-0 winning margin was a truer reflection of how well the Warriors had taken their chances than their dominance, as they only did that once they had got their noses in front.
Mohd Noor Ali, standing in as Eagles coach for the indisposed Vedhamuthu Kanan, acknowledged that the more experienced team had won, but also observed that his men had more than enough chances to win it themselves.
“They had three chances and scored three goals,” he said. “We had a lot more than they did, but we were not clinical.
“They have a lot of quality players while we have a lot of young ones and our most experienced player, Jozef Kaplan, cannot do it all. He has been the only one scoring goals for us this season and he needs some help.
“The Warriors were very strong in defence and we had no luck in front of goal. We played some good football, but we need all of our players to take responsibility and that is where we lost the game.
“It could have been a lot different if we had taken our chances.
“I only found out a few hours before the start that Kanan was unwell. Now I can appreciate the difficulty he faces in every game trying to get the team to play the way he wants them to.”
The Warriors’ players got into a huddle when it was all over and were seen whooping for joy at gaining their first win of the season.
They welcomed back Ruzaini Zainal, who made a faster than anticipated recovery from an arthroscope on his knee, as he came off the bench in the final 15 minutes or so.
Making his full debut was promising wingman Prakash Manikam, and he pleased his coach, V Selvaraj.
“Prakash did well and it’s good to have Ruzaini back,” he noted.
“[Kazuyuki] Toda should be back for the Tampines game next week. The swelling has gone down now and he will train with us again from Monday.
“This game is one of four we are playing before we return to AFC Cup action with our visit to India [and] I’m hoping we can continue to play with added confidence, and then carry that into the remaining four AFC Cup games.
“Tonight, the players were beginning to show their quality at last. The good players showed me more of what they can do; I needed them to show me their best and I think we got the best out of some of them this evening.
“Also, it was good for Hyrulnizam [Juma’at] to play and gain confidence from the result. I did not want to push him or put unnecessary pressure on him. He needed to play tonight, but we will see about the next game against Tampines [and] I will give it [the choice of goalkeeper] a lot of thought.
“We defended well in this match; I’m not saying we weren’t lucky. We showed the benefit of our experience and the extra effort we put in was most important in getting the result.
“I can’t think of a better time to get three points than tonight.”