Thursday, September 9, 2010

Penalty miss give Stars top spot and surely the S-league title

It has been billed as the championship decider and I believed it was so.

That was why Korean defender Park Yo Seb penalty miss was so crucial for it has given not only top spot to Etoilr FC but a real shot at the S-league title.

But no blame can be attached to the former Korean international as the pressure he must have felt must been enormous as it was virtually the last kick of the game with no chance to make up for any error.

The only thing that can be said is
Spanish side Deportivo de La Coruña had suffered a similar outcome in the championship race in the 93/94 season when Serbian defender Miroslav Đukić miss his spot-kick that cost the Spanish side their first ever title.

But it all came around 7 years down the road when Deportivo finally won and then 2 years later, Dukic found peace as he collected his first silverware with Valencia.

Yes, this may sound like consolation words and it is but few will have the courage to take a spotkick at that point like Park and Dukic did.

They had it and failed and that is life.

However, at the start it was not as exciting as the ending for both sides have too much to lose from losing this game as their year work could be gone in 90 minutes.

As a result, both sides were cautious in their approach and Mendy header onto the bar with Hassan Sunny totally beaten was the real chance of the first period.

The second period was adventurous thanks to a quick goal by
Mendy as the S-league top scorer took advantage of a miss header by Stags defender Croissant to bring the ball down and push off Kaneko to fire the shot pass Hassan.

Left with
no choice, Tampines Rovers have to attack and they did with waves after waves while the Stars took advantage of that to counterattack.

It was breathtaking pace and it was Etoile FC who broke first as 10 minutes after that opener, Aliff
Shafaein fired in the equaliser.

It can be described as nothing but a messy affair as Etoile players could not clear the ball from the area and it was bouncing all about, the Stags skipper got to it and fired a shot pass a group of Stars and Stags player into the net.

Yohann Lacroix could not react to it at all although he will have his moment later on.

With the game tip at the balance, Etoile FC went to take the lead thanks to a brilliant moment from Michelini.

Just like the Stags goal, the Etoile FC midfielder got advantage of the Stags inablilty to clear the ball from the area although the difference was high up in the air when it came down to him. with little time, he improvise by slamming the ball in mid-air with a scissor kick and it went into the top corner with Hassan beaten all the way.

The Stags will have to come back again and they nearly did but Lacroix produce two excellent saves.

First from
Shahdan Sulaiman who chested the ball down and volley it into the top corner. It was going in until Lacroix matched Shahdan effort with an equally brilliant save. Second moment came when Croissant fired in a freekick that had goal screaming but again, Lacroix matches that effort as he flew to save it and push it away from danger.

The Stags must have believed it was all over until the penalty incident and then it was really over.

Etoile FC now has one hand on the championship crown as Tampines Rovers still have to face off against Home United and both sides could end up taking points off each other.

For the Queenstown side though, 4 of the 5 remaining matches looked like a banker if they play to their potential. Only former champions looked troublesome but it may not matter as their rivals could be dropping points themselves.

History beckon for the Queestown club.

Tampines Rovers
Hassan Sunny (GK), Benoit Croissant, Seiji Kaneko, Akihiro Nakamura, Imran Sahib, Park Yo Seb, Shahdan Sulaiman, (Zulkarnaen Zainal) Aliff Shafaein (C), (Jufri Taha) Shukor Zailan, Ismadi Mukhtar, Aleksandar Duric

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