Friday, April 13, 2012

Opponent Watch: Harimau Muda

Following the exciting 2 - 2 draw last week at Jalan Besar, the Rams will no doubt be full of confidence coming into this next fixture against Harimau Muda. Taking the lead twice through the superb Moon Soon-Ho, the Rams were unlucky not to have gone home with all three points as the Warriors clawed their way back into the game with two equalizers.

While many would argue that SAFFC's performance was off-colour, the Choa Chu Kang based outfit certainly has one of the strongest and most experienced teams in the league, boasting at least 5 nationals / ex-nationals in their squad, as well as last season's top scorer, Mislav Karoglan.

However, the height and aerial prowess of Daniel Hammond dealt with SAFFC's high balls while Fabien Lewis' timely tackles were vital in cancelling out the Warriors' attacks. Edward Tan's bold performance at centre-left back, in an unusual 3-5-2 formation, also earned him a spot in Football OPOD's S-League Team of the Week (Week 8). Keeping out the dynamic duo of Fazrul Nawaz and Karoglan for most of the match,  the resolute Rams' defence will need to garner the same kind of confidence against a very lethal Harimau Muda attack.

The Black Sheep cheering the Rams on during the SAFFC fixture at Jalan Besar.
Photo Credit: Lioneldude Photography

The Young Tigers were unbeaten in their six previous games until they suffered a 2 - 1 defeat at the hands of Home United last sunday. The pacy Malaysians were expected to create lots of trouble for the Protectors' defence but Home United's master tactician Lee Lim-Saeng opted for five at the back, a tactic which seemed to have paid off against the Young Tigers.

One player the Rams will have to be wary of is Ahmad Hazwan, who scored a screamer last week. Harimau Muda coach Ong Kim Swee waxed lyrical about Ahmad during his post match interview last week, and went on to say that he believed that he could go on to better 28 year old Malaysia star striker Safee Sali, who currently captains Pelita Jaya in the Indonesian Super League. "I've been rating him as our next top striker in Malaysia." gushed Ong. "With more international exposure, he will be even better than Safee."

Midfielder Wan Zack Haikal is another Young Tiger who has been making waves in the S.League with his goal-scoring ability and piercing runs down the right flank, while 19 year old sensation Gary Robbat, who packs a powerful shot, has to be closely watched. It will be another busy day for our midfielders to wrest control of the game and break on the counter.

Moon Soon-Ho will look forward to add more goals to his tally after that wonderful performance last week and the Rams will look forward to the likely return of defenders K. Sathiraj and Duncan Elias to the first team. Hussein Akil remains doubtful due to a hamstring injury but he will be more than a handful for the young Malaysians if he makes a surprise start  or substitution.

Dangerman Wan Zack Haikal (No. 16) will pose a huge threat to the Rams
Photo Credit: FAS

With the Harimau Muda now playing their home games at the Yishun Stadium (last used by Beijing Guoan), the match is billed as a Northern Derby of sorts. With the flurry of Malaysians working and living in Singapore, as well as the stadiums close proximity to the causeway, we are sure that the Malaysian fans will be out in full force to support their Young Tigers.

For the travelling Black Sheep, it will be a short journey east to Yishun in a stadium best remembered for the famed derby between Woodlands Wellington and Sembawang Rangers.

Are you ready for the new "Northern Derby"? Come on you Rams! Never Surrender!

Match Information
Date: Sunday, 15th April, 2012 (7.45pm kick-off)
Venue: Yishun Stadium
Tickets: $5.00 (Adult), $ 1.00 (Student)

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The Black Sheep Confetti Storm - Coming soon to Yishun Stadium.
Photo Credit: Aaron Chan (The Black Sheep)

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