Tuesday, August 05, 2008

The Losing Streak Continues...

5th August 2008, Tuesday

24th May: Sengkang 0 : SAFFC 1
3rd June: Singapore 3 : Uzbekistan 7
14th June: Singapore 0 : Saudi Arabia 2
20th June: Sengkang 1: Dalian Shiwu Shide 2
28th June: Tampines 3 : Sengkang 0

We thought it would be 6 time lucky as me and Foo plucked up enough confidence as we strode towards Hougang Stadium to cheer on our rejuvenated Dolphins.

Rejuvenated, you ask?

Well the past fortnight had been pretty interesting for the north-east based club.
Firstly with the transfer window opened in late June, Sengkang who was scoring a mere 7 goals in around 19 games sure in dire need of some inspiration up front.
Under Singapore's favorite footballing son, Fandi Ahmad's (now coaching in Indonesia) recommendation, Sengkang wooed a relative unknown Brazilian forward Reginaldo Estevao who had a few years plying his trade in Indonesia.
They then plucked an even more obscure 20 year old Japanese attacker Kato Toshiaki from nowhere to add more bite.
In the process lackluster Chilean forward Ivan Asenjo (who we suspected had a shameful spat with the management) was released while young striker Fairoz Hassan who had been doing his best running on the front on his own the entire season was transferred to the Young Lions.

The outcome was a 4-0 mauling at Yishun Stadium which we would had attended if Foo hadn't been under the weather but our absence didn't prompt the new look Sengkang side to perform better; then again we couldn't take away the superiority of this season Super Reds side.

Our goalscoring woes could be alleviated if Mirko had passed the mandatory fitness (beep) test but it wasn't meant to be as he failed the final round.
However a surprise twist of fate led to under-performing gaffer, 1994 M Cup winning leftback Saswadimata Dasuki from relishing his duties for a 4 match holiday with the former Tampines & SAFFC marksman to have a taste of full management role after deputizing Saswa at the sidelines the whole season so far.

Everyone were skeptical about the change would translate better results for the Dolphins but a former striker seemingly tends to instill more attacking tactics than a defender and our team duly shocked the local footballing scene by beating Gombak Utd at their home turf last weak for only our 2nd win of the season.
The result coupled with Balestier's inability to get any points at Yishun Stadium against the Super Reds led to the Dolphins pulling off the bottom which we had so accustomed to since the start of the campaign.

Buoyed by the win, we were quietly confident that the next 3 games for Sengkang (home against Geylang & Albirex Niigata and away against Young Lions) might bring more points to our team and perhaps more goals scored as well with Mirko onboard for this quartet of fixtures.

However on the flip side, we were burdened by that curse of not witnessing the team we support winning for 5 games straight as our team in white faced the Eagles recently on full flight form with 2 wins on the trot in blue.

The first half we showed self belief and had most of the possession, totally smudged off the minnows tag as we square up strength to strength against a Geylang side with 2 full internationals and several other ex-internationals.

New striker Reginaldo was a menace up front for Sengkang but constantly in the offside position which Foo pointed out that it reminded him of Italian striker Filippo Inzaghi who strayed up front but once you allow him to be on side he will nicked in the goals.
The 31 year old Brazilian did incurred the wrath of the Geylang defense throughout the game for his playacting and foul plays at times.
But it was him who conjured the opening goal when Slovenian midfielder Belicak was adjudged to foul him from a corner and he duly put a spot kick past Amos Boon who made no effort to dive whatsoever.
The bald-headed striker made an effort to cheer with the bench and get the crowd which might be straight of the cast of "The Night of the Living Dead" cheering in high decibels.
The Geylang attack was pretty wasteful for the first half with Noor Ali having a poor night and Fazrul Nawaz continued to run like headless chicken as we knew he would. Geylang's own Brazilian Rivaldo Costa was non-existent.

So going into the break with a precarious lead, we thought it could finally be the night when the curse is broken...boy were we wrong.
The 2nd half ensues and the attack was eager to bring a 2nd half which would wrap things up.
But we neglected the fact that our defense is still an Archilles heel despite the fact we had conceded much lesser goals than at least 4 clubs.
Former Geylang player Winston Yap uncharacteristically headed a harmless ball from the opposition hoping that keeper Hafez would pick it up.
He totally misjudged his force allowing the fleet foot Masrezwan Masturi to dance between the Sengkang centerbacks and lob the ball over the hapless Hafez.
Within minutes the shambolic defense was well prised open as impressive Slovenian midfield dynamo, Miroslav Latiak picked a loose ball in the 6 yard box and tugged simply beyong Hafez and from 1-0 up, we were trailing 2-1 with about 20 minutes to go.

Winston who had a torrid evening was substituted for young Kato for more attacking option with left winger Hicks taking his place in defense.
While Hicks was in marauding form in the 1st half on the left wing, Kato could conjure little but he was willing despite his tender age and lack of common language.
Razali Johari and Haris Sumri had shown instances of good ball control and trickery but just lack that telling ball for the forwards to convert.
There was a chronic lack of idea to prod the Geylang's defense for the 2nd goal to salvage a draw we should deserve.

In the end we faced yet another loss, one which surely sore especially we had the chance to win it for sure.
But plenty of positives to draw from it especially the first half display, and we might finally break this losing streak in the coming 2 matches...
Unanimously, we felt as long as we stuck with the club, we will see brighter days ahead, or will we?

Japanese word of the day: 勝ちのない (Losing) No one wants to support a losing club but a true fan will stick by your team...but surely there's a limit

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