The Final Stretch
The S League has stealthily returned though in the midst of the euphoria from the Youth Olympics, not many had missed the local professional football league.
The league had been taking a battering from the local audiences who forsake the game for ages now; claiming the seasoned professionals barely even playing second fiddle to 15 year old boys.
Knowing my fellow countrymen, one can take such comments with a pinch of salt.
Anyway, the dwindling attendance continues to plague the local game as the past 4 games since Monday serve as a testament but the matter of the league champions continue to heat up.
As for second bottom placed Sengkang Punggol, unless a drastic drop of form or a miraculous run by Woodlands Wellington (who just lost to Home United at home), it could be safely said that they live another day and starve off the cellar for the 4th year running.
However the prime objective was still 8th placing and with Balestier Khalsa claiming their 9th win of the season with that 2-0 win over Young Lions, I would say 9th placing would be a safer bet though the team had to ensure they do better than the Japanese & Chinese youngsters of Albirex & Beijing respectively.
The final stretch began with a testy game at Choa Chu Kang stadium, the venue where the team brilliantly clinched a win over home team SAFFC in the League Cup in March.
Richard Bok’s Warriors are in the back of a horrendous run of result which was an unheard of 4 match losing streak.
The break might actually do them some good to compose themselves and re-instill the winning mentality.
Thursday game surely is one they would be out for blood with their injury-plagued squad finally getting their act together.
Even with old SAFFC boy Kenji Arai in our ranks, I don’t bet we can get anything there. A slender loss would be an encouraging result.
This is closely followed to a trip to Clementi against SAFFC’s arch uniformed nemesis, Home United.
The red hot team could really win with their eyes shut these days though they needed some luck at Woodlands last evening.
Sengkang Punggol’s past record against the Protectors had not been good, so another game that I would not bet on.
Entertaining fellow strugglers Albirex at home could be a decider to see who will finally finish above the other.
Albirex will have a seemingly easier late run-in with games against Young Lions, Woodlands and Beijing, so seriously a must win for the Dolphins over the White Swans.
Away games at Young Lions and Geylang United would not be a walk in the park but scrapping for a point or two would not be too hard to ask for.
Playing Tampines Rovers as their second last game of the season at home, the Stags might need the points to win their coveted first league title in 5 years.
Would not mind Sengkang Punggol proving an unwanted obstacle, of course without the expense of Etoile winning it.
Finally the trip to Yishun Stadium where the team had some dominance over, hell even Ryan Fante scored there.
So one will expect a decent performance there if the team aren’t shrouded by injury or suspension problems.
Not the easiest run of game but to get 9th or 10th position in the final standings is still achievable, so we’ll see.