Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Opponent Watch: Courts Young Lions

It has been a month long break away from top flight action for all our Rams and I am sure that everyone is raring to go in the opener of the S-League's second half where we play the energetic Courts Young Lions at the Woodlands Stadium this Friday.

Courts Young Lions coach, former international Robin Chitrakar.
Photo Credit:  Courts Young Lions

Despite their poor start to the season where they clocked 6 defeats and 1 draw, the Young Lions seemed to have turned their season around in April with that impressive 5 - 0 thrashing of Tanjong Pagar. That victory in Queenstown Stadium seemed to have reclaimed some belief in the squad, and they began to churn out the results that slowly pulled them out of the slump.

With crucial wins over Gombak United and Hougang, as well as a draw against Albirex Niigata (S), the Young Lions have risen above Woodlands to 10th spot with 11 points after 13 matches played, while the Rams lie in 12th spot.

The departure of defender Abdil Qaiyyim Mutalib to the LionsXII squad, plus the talk of more players being drafted over, seemed to have minimal impact on unsettling the Young Lions and they could potentially climb even further up the table if they continue playing they way they are right now.

Jonathan Toto has been sensational so far.
Photo Credit:  Courts Young Lions

One reason why the Young Lions have been able to bounce back from the cellar can be attributed to the sensational form of  Jonathan Toto. The prolific striker has 6 goals to his name already and he looks set to meet or exceed the 12 goals he scored for Etoile FC last season. His impressive performances for the Young Lions earned him a callup to the S-League All Stars squad which played against the FirstXI and the 22 year old Frenchman is on his way to becoming a true S-League legend.

Super Moon in action against Courts Young Lions in February.
Photo Credit: Andrew Him (The Black Sheep)

When the LionsXII project was initiated, critics were quick to point out that the Young Lions would have a tough time in the league considering that they have lost a large majority of their players to the Malaysian Super League. However, that doesn't seem to be the case as the Young Lions aren't faring too badly at the moment.

Top scorer Toto is usually flanked on both sides by wingers Benjamin Kristofferson-Lee and Sherif El-Masri. The Rams must pay extra attention to the tricky El-Masri, who is already well known in the league for his agility, mazy runs and playmaking skills.

Sherif El-Masri, the Canadian wizard.
Photo Credit: Courts Young Lions

Despite the heavy presence of foreign influence within the Young Lions squad, Robin Chitrakar also has at his disposal various local players with immense potential. Defender Al-Qaasimy Abdul Rahman will lead the Lions backline in a couple of years from now, while midfielder Faritz Abdul Hameed and Shahfiq Ghani could give any S-League player a run for their money. Faritz even featured in the S-League All Stars alongside Toto.

Benjamin Kristofferson-Lee takes on Duncan Elias.
Photo Credit: Andrew Him (The Black Sheep)

The last time these two teams met in February, it was a close contest which was eventually settled by Moon Soon-Ho's 49th minute penalty. What is your guess on the score and the winner this time round?

Be there at Woodlands Stadium to check out all the action this Friday!

Match Information
Date: Friday, 15th June, 2012 (7.45pm kick-off)
Venue: Woodlands Stadium

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