Fish Out of Water

-Sengkang Punggol FC Fans' Perspective-

Sengkang Punggol FC in a Nutshell – Mar 2010

Another month of matches has passed. Recycled opponents seem to be the order of the month, as Sengkang Punggol revisited three teams in the space of just a few weeks, with varying success. Some unbelievably good, some predictably bad, making this a pretty unforgettable month.

SAFFC (League Cup Quarterfinal)

A momentous game that I regretfully missed.
A majestic team performance, not only in beating the S.League giant but also outplaying them in their home fortress.
A match where Mamadou brought his best to the table, driving the attack as he constantly torn through the opposition defence with his speed and skill. Collected a goal with his dazzling display.

A+ for the team, and Man of the Match for Mamadou Diallo as picked by my partner.

Man of the Match - Mamadou Diallo

Etoile (League Cup Semifinal)

In a match where I lost all respect with of our French opposition where instead of displaying their technical skills on a semifinal stage, they preferred to indulge in the darker craft of football (not wanting to stop play when we had a man down, diving, feigning injury, waving the imaginary card at the gullible referee to name just the few I saw with my own eyes).

An honest team who loses ultimately wins more than one who cheats to victory.

One player who exemplied that positive quality that night was Murphy, who fought hard but fair in the middle, pulled no punches in his tackles without ever once resorting to any form of gamesmanship and played the game like a real man. He also clocked in his share of attacking hours, adding muscles to the pacy but lightweight attack. Came close to scoring on a one occasion if not for the intervention of their defender. His distribution from deep has also gotten better, judging from the accuracy of his long passes to the wings for quick breaks.

The redeployment of midfield partner Abdoulaye to central defence after Shahir’s red card left a hole in the middle. Still that didn’t stop him from pushing the tiring team on for the equaliser. The end result certainly didn’t justify the effort the team and himself put in. The better team lost but that does not mean Murphy will not get the accolade he deserves.

Man of the Match - Murphy Wiredu

Gombak (League Cup 3rd/4th Placing)

An inconsequential game scheduled to kick off on the heat-trapping artificial field on one of the hotter and more humid afternoons in a while. Clearly not the most ideal condition for competitive football. But credit to both teams for willing to have a go at each other to entertain the attending patrons like yours truly whose initial thoughts was a lazy Sunday siesta in the comforts of home. Was I glad I chose to be in among the stands instead.

The team delivered another solid performance to come back from a goal down to win the contest. Every one chipped in their fair share of contribution though Abdoulaye stood out that much more with his midfield display and more crucially, his maiden goal after two seasons in Sengkang Punggol colors.

His winner enabled the Dolphins to vanquish the Bulls for the second consecutive time, and clinched overall third placing in what was a magnificent cup run.

Man of the Match - Abdoulaye Diallo

SAFFC (S.League Match 4)

Monday blues descended upon Hougang and hit virtually the entire team. A painful match to sit through as the outfield players, without the usual vigor, switched off their performance and allowed the Warriors to run rampant.

The opening goal was a needless gift wrapped present to the player we did not want to see score the most, while the second and third goals could have been prevented had the defenders closed down on the marauding attackers faster and the overall marking tighter. In short the team gave the league champions too much respect and played a match 180 from the cup upset just few days back.

The scoreline could have been much much worse if not for the last man standing. Fadhil was a man possessed between the sticks, repelling the constant bombardment from the Warriors’ assault. I already lost count on the number crucial one-on-one saves he had to make to bail the sluggish defence out. None of the three goals conceded could be prevented by any keeper and had luck been on his side, the rebounds off his initial saves for the second and third goals would have fallen on a teammate’s feet and not that of Akiyoshi’s.

Nevertheless a masterclass in goalkeeping.

Man of the Match - Fadhil Salim (by a long mile)

Woodlands Wellington (S.League Match 5)

Another away win I missed (I’m beginning to wonder if my absence is a contributing factor to a Sengkang Punggol victory).

Known for his consistent and solid defending on the right, it was just a matter of time before Meng Meng gets a mention in this column. He couldn’t have asked for a more important time to step up his performance.

Another Shahir early shower (don’t make this a habit yah) meant unnecessary extra work on the remaining defenders and for a good one hour, the backline held firm thanks to the tireless running and courageous defending display by Meng Meng. The way he nullified the threat of veteran striker Noor Ali was certainly no fluke.

For that he gets my partner’s nod for Man of the Match.

Man of the Match - Lau Meng Meng (say thanks, Shahir)

Home United (S.League Match 6)

An uninspired game of snooze-fest proportion for a neutral viewer where the opponent, under pressure to deliver a win, would gladly pick a morale-boosting result over performance.

They got the points.

Home’s home win was made easier by a listless display from the Dolphins. The offensive department failed to show up for work while the defence was culpable for giving the ball away in dangerous positions, resulting in the two avoidable goals.

With so many players off their game looking for a Man of the Match was not simple. Still three players were worth the mention: Sim Li Ming for another mature display in the heart of defence and his miraculous goal line clearance though the match winner was a consequence of his reckless challenge, Farizal Basri for scoring a quality goal within a minute of his introduction and lastly, Duncan Elias for his defensive solidity and dangerous dead ball deliveries.

However for his 90mins of consistent performance on the left from where he produced another sweet assist, Duncan I vote.

Man of the Match - Duncan Elias David

Six matches played. Six impressive performances from six individuals playing in different positions.

No doubt there are a few indispensable players in Sengkang Punggol’s lineup but this month’s performers show that the other players are just as important to the team in ensuring a good season.

One player we can no longer count on though is Moussa Keita, who left the club in the middle of this month. Official reason given for his release was “the expiration of his employment pass” (yah right, I believe that). Fortunately a replacement was readily available in the shape of Ryan Fante, incidentally a former colleague of both Jordan and Murphy during their playing days in Canada.

Here’s wishing Moussa all the best in his future endeavors, and Ryan a good season ahead.

Good luck, Moussa.

Welcome, Ryan.

Coming up in April the team will play five league matches with a few winnable games in there. Work towards those victories.

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March 29, 2010 - Posted by | S League 2010, Sengkang Punggol

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