So with the deadline for the mid season transfer coming to an end on Friday, the club had finalized their new playing squad to see if they could try milk a few more points for the remaining 13 league matches.
The new faces
No. 7 An Jae Cheul : The former Singapore Cricket Club man trying to fill the big shoe of the now US-bound Murphy Wiredu. Many observers found the South Korean is simply not the right remedy for the creative spark and aside from picking up a yellow and constant early removals in the matches he had participated so far, An had not helped refute that this is a signing that symbolized a step backward.
No. 19 Kenji Arai : Many felt the signing of the 32 year old former Albirex and SAFFC centerback was astute and he definitely added steel and experience at the back. He did look susceptible to pace as Seo Su Jong revealed in the last game but at least we could hope to concede less silly goals now.
No. 13 Ratna Suffian : One of the real outstanding player in the torrid 2008 squad. A real battler in defense, the former Balestier Khalsa and Home United player who used to spot those raggae dreadlocks certainly would useful in defense despite not playing at the highest level and assimilating his teaching role in the one and a half year should need some time to shake off the rust.
No. 20 Al-Aminnur Ibrahim : A goalkeeper of little known quantity. As long as Fadhil is fit or shy of picking up another yellow to see him suspended, doubt we would see him between the sticks.
No. 9 Mojtaba Tehranizadeh : The striker they affectionately known as Moshee was a real doubt as he was so far off the passing mark for the beep test and with fellow Woodlands Wellington alumnus Fadzuhasny Juraimi looked set to be the sole attacking signing by Aide. Shown some good touches for the Rams last season but goal count had been far from exemplary, so could he join the burgeoning list of misfiring strikers Sengkang Punggol had signed in recent time, we shall see.
Murphy Wiredu : Scored a total of 11 goals in league and cup in the one and half season here. Forced to play out of position most of the time, the Canadian is one of the best foreign signing for the past few years and certainly can do better in his career.
Ryan Fante : Who?
Abdoulaye Diallo : Contract ended in June and was duly released for an extended period of turgid performances on the pitch. Failed to find his best form in his best playing position that saw him score like goals aplenty for Gombak in the early 2000s and voted the MVP in Indonesia.
Darrel Tan : The former NFA U19 trainee came onboard during mid season last year, played his heart out against DPMM, distraught to be judged to handle on the line against Home United before fading to black. Only recalled him playing in early season League Cup game against Beijing Guo’an and was culpable for their goal. Better road ahead for young Darrel.
Israel Tan : Played a few games in close season for Aide last year and some cameo appearances this season had certainly failed to impress but perhaps of the wrong timing for his emergence off the bench. However not scoring many for the Prime League also felt Israel was not up to the mark as well.
After whining about an extensive period of football play away from home, it is now the 4th game in 5 at Hougang Stadium with another fixture against Young Lions to be played there in another week’s time.
As mentioned previously, playing at home actually is a loathesome burden for the Dolphins who had earned their last 5 points from a possible 36 away from their own backyards.
They nicked 3 useful points against Monday’s opponents, Geylang United at Bedok Stadium 2 months ago.
The Eagles who had a fantastic run in the league after the 3-2 reversal with Slovakian marksman Peter Tomko grabbing a hat trick against the beleaguered Sengkang Punggol’s defense, gradully returned to their usual listless form inclusive of that 3-0 loss against Home United on Saturday.
Tomko who recently recovered from a muscle tear would be eager to regain that same goal-scoring form against the charitable Sengkang Punggol.
However I am sure it would not be as smooth sailing for the Slovakian league division 2 topscorer from 2009 with a restructured Dolphins defense anchored with Kenji Arai.
It would be 3 points for the taking for the home team to lift them out of the bottom spot on Tuesday, but they would have to grab it by the skin of their teeth.
|Opponent: Albirex Niigata (S)
Date: 18th June, 1930hrs
Venue: Jalan Besar Stadium
Final Score: 1 – 1 (Tatsuro Inui 36″ – Mamadou Diallo 42″)
Another dubious penalty awarded to us, another dominant display of possession football from the Japanese, the winless streak is 9 on the trot.
Well at least Mamadou scored a stunning equalizer and showed there is still some fire in his flat abs.
Arai’s frustrations at some of the loss of ball possession against his former employers shorn of some key players told a vivid story of how his current team mates could barely match up his high standards.
I am not sure whether the dust had settled from the influx of new signings for the club but that definitely did not help the club’s fortunes in the league.
Back to back (make it 3 in a row) home losses is a hard pill to swallow.
Despite not actively watching matches live, I still hope the club can climb out of their latest predicament.
Every 1-0 losses just compound more misery for anyone supporting or associated with the team, even though we constantly heard that the team is hard to beat.
Pretty sick of that tag cos I want to see a Sengkang Punggol team capable of pulling upsets once every blue moon.
Now that blue moon is nowhere in sight.
The losing streak just gotta be arrested and no better time than on Friday at Jalan Besar Stadium against fellow strugglers Albirex.
Anything less than 3 point would sadly be regarded as a failure I feel.
|Opponent: Home United
Date: 14th June, 1930hrs
Venue: Hougang Stadium
Final Score: 0 – 1 (Chun Jae Woon 94″)
Welcome back to Singapore football, Arai-san.
It was a heartbreaking effort from the Dolphins to concede a penalty at the death of the game (awarded by Sukhir Singh, surprise surprise) but the more disturbing fact was that we can’t score a goal for nuts, especially not at home.
With the arrival of Kenji Arai, the club had resolved the softbelly of the team setup which was the defense which had not really been that awful as compared to the previous seasons.
We could see a season when we concede the least goals in years yet still entrenched in the bottom without seeing the light of day.
There had been slightly audible whispers (no not the buzzing of vuvuzelas) that the ailing Dolphins of Hougang had managed to make an astute signing of Japanese centerback Kenji Arai.
The former Albirex Niigata defender who was part of Richard Bok’s highly successful championship winning SAFFC squad from 2006 to 2009 would certainly be welcomed here with open arms and should do the novice defense of ours a real boost.
Arai who had moved on to India with I League club Sporting Clube de Goa might had missed a more cosmopolitan lifestyle of Singapore.
Ultimately we will see if this move materialized in the team sheet coach Aide put up against his former employers Home United at Hougang Stadium tonight.
The records against the Protectors had been abysmal for the past few years and last season’s corresponding fixture saw us being robbed of a point after a handball conceded by Darrel Tan gave Home United the match-winning penalty.
Even at their poorest run of form, Home United always find in him the way to beat Sengkang Punggol like earlier in the season.
With his new South Korean acquisitions and the influx of quality young players, head coach Lee Lim Saeng should be confident to grab a second win over the Dolphins in 2010.
If Kenji really turns up for Sengkang Punggol, he would be squaring up against Cameroonian Valery Hiek, hours before their home nations square up at Bloamfontaine, South Africa.
Just dishing out some stats of our team of the past 4 months or so:
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Date: 8th June, 1945hrs
Venue: Hougang Stadium
Final Score: 0 – 1 (Taisuke Akiyoshi 65″)
From the post match interview, coach Aide felt the team did more than expectations (yet everyone thought it would be like 3-0 to the reigning champions) and drew something positive from the display.
Sadly it was still another 3 points loss and aside from the away game to Albirex, I don’t see us getting anything out of the next 3 fixtures as well.
The defense held firm for great lengths in the game with Shahir seemingly recapturing some of his earlier form minus a booking; it was the attack that really needed to show some initiatives.
As for the new boy Ahn Jae Cheul, beside picking a yellow card despite being almost invisible as viewers had claimed got the reporter to quote as below:
Time will tell if he could assimilate and be an asset though my hope ain’t high for Ahn.
Aide mentioned reinforcement is on its way, let’s keep an open mind to it but to haul ourselves off the bottom two this season really looked like a longshot.
As reported from S League.com:
The decision to release the Dolphins vice-captain, who is one of the team’s more consistent performers, comes as a surprise, as does the swift move to sign An Jae Cheul, who previously featured with the Singapore Cricket Club in the National Football League.
There you have it, the mysterious man who replaces our beloved Murphy Wiredu.
I don’t about you guys, but signing a player from the seemingly-amateur National Football League is not the right direction we ought to be heading.
If Tan Sio Beng is a key component of the Singapore Cricket Club, you can speak volume of the setup.
Anyway let’s see if Ahn can turn it up for the sinking Dolphins.
South Koreans seldom disappoint in the S League even the pair at Balestier last season but we do have a couple of awkward Korean imports in Kim See Mun in the past.
Meanwhile the likes of Abdoulaye Diallo and Ryan Fante live another day…
Yes this match was stipulated to be a home match for SAFFC but the venue was altered to the northeast of the island on Tuesday instead of the northwest signaled that treacherous pitch over at Choa Chu Kang is in dire need of a make over.
Speaking of the dire need of make-over to change the recent fortunes, both teams needed to put recent disappointments aside to get back on the trail (though the trail seems to be a dot right now for a certain party).
After seeing Balestier taking a point from the game which saw them leading for like almost 85 minutes, then losing 5-3 at home to Bangkok Glass in the RHB Cup after going 3-1 ahead, Richard Bok’s once-mighty Warriors were made to eat the humble pie again at Jalan Besar when a Park Kang-Jin’s goal for Gombak United saw them wrenched at the unwanted 5th position in the league table, 12 points behind Tampines with a game in hand.
The team that won 4 successive S League titles recently will definitely need to find that winning feeling.
In doing so, they brought in former Perlita Jaya & DPMM midfielder, Croatian Ivan Jerkovic to boost the middle of the park with the departing Swede Niklas Sandberg failing to leave a mark.
Jerkovic from what I remembered is a hard-tackling and studious midfielder but certainly lack much flamboyance, which was a trait Richard was never concern with.
An usually sound defense for the Warriors had seen goals, some rather soft, being conceded which was no surprise a familiar face was in the stands of Hougang Stadium that could make a homecoming from the beach resort of Goa, India soon.
Meanwhile the morale for the team that offered the pitch for Tuesday’s game could not be any lower.
The departure of their most inspirational player (Murphy Wiredu) was sandwiched by the elimination of the RHB Cup and the condemnation to the bottom of the league table, both at our own backyard to fellow strugglers.
Everyone can moan about poor officiating, bad luck, curse of the club etc. but ultimately the season ensues and it is up to the management, coach Aide, his backroom staff and most importantly the players to show that there is still some fire in the belly.
Changes are promised to be made with the opening of the transfer window (today) and it would be interesting to keep a tab on the new faces coach Aide had kept mum about.
Certainly almost half the squad failed to make the mark for the past half a season, but doubt there would really being a mass exodus especially the limited number of local professionals in Singapore.
Many predicted that it be a repeat of the earlier encounter (not the shocking 3-1 success by the Dolphins in the League Cup) when it was all easy breezy for the Warriors with Indra Sahdan keeping up the knack of scoring against his former employers.
I would be lying if I did not assume that it would be the exact outcome as well.