French goalie Bertrand shines on Young Lions debut
French goalkeeper shines on debut for Garena Young Lions despite defeat
WARRIORS FC 2
(Hafiz Rahim 45, Jonathan Behe 90+2)
GARENA YOUNG LIONS 0
All eyes were on Garena Young Lions goalkeeper Benjamin Bertrand at the Choa Chu Kang Stadium last night.
The Frenchman is the only foreign shot-stopper playing for a local side in the Great Eastern-Yeo's S.League this season and was making his debut for his new team.
When The New Paper broke news of his signing on Feb 18, it was also reported he would draw a five-figure monthly salary, making him the highest paid player in the Football Association of Singapore Under-21 developmental team.
And even though the Young Lions lost 2-0 to nine-time S.League champions Warriors FC last night, Bertrand earned his keep by producing three superb saves to keep the score down.
Barely two minutes into the game, the 23-year-old former Tours FC goalkeeper sprung down to his right to parry a fierce shot from inside the box by Warriors playmaker Nikola Rak.
On 39 minutes, he launched himself to his left to push away a firm header by the home side's striker Jonathan Behe that seemed destined for the corner of the goal.
And in the 57th minute, Bertrand again showed great reflexes to keep out a stinging long-range shot by Hafiz Nor.
His saves helped to limit the damage against the Warriors, whose goals came from Hafiz Rahim just before half-time and Behe in injury time.
Warriors' defender Kento Fukuda also saw his header rock the crossbar, with Bertrand rooted.
The custodian's performance drew praises from Warriors coach Jorg Steinebrunner.
He said: "We looked at some videos of him when he played in France, so we knew he was a good shot-stopper, good on the line.
"He will be a role model for the young goalkeepers in the Young Lions.
"We could have scored three more goals had it not been for his reflexes."
Bertrand, however, had mixed emotions after the game.
"Yes, I had a good game, but my first priority is to win with my guys, so I'm not happy," he said.
"We have a young team, but we worked a lot in training to prepare for this game."
With nine goals shipped in their last three games, with none scored, there wasn't much to shout about for Young Lions coach Patrick Hesse, but he chose to look at the positives.
"It was a good game by us, better than our last two matches (2-0 against Geylang International and 5-0 against Albirex Niigata)," said the former FC Metz assistant coach.
"But we conceded at the wrong moment in the game, when I was shouting, 'Two minutes (more), no risk'. If it were 0-0 at half-time, it might have made a difference.
"But I am proud of my young players. We made fewer mistakes tonight."
"He will be a role model for the young goalkeepers in the Young Lions. We could have scored three more goals had it not been for his reflexes."
- Warriors coach Jorg Steinebrunner on Garena Young Lions goalkeeper Benjamin Bertrand
- TNP Man of the Match: Benjamin Bertrand
- Hougang United 0 Brunei DPMM 0
WARRIORS: Yazid Yasin, Poh Yi Feng, Hafiz Osman, Kento Fukuda, Zulfadli Zainal Abidin, Syaqir Sulaiman, Nikola Rak, Hafiz Nor (Ignatius Ang 74), Hafiz Rahim (Emmeric Ong 65), Shaiful Esah (Fazli Jaffar 83), Jonathan Behe
YOUNG LIONS: Benjamin Bertrand, Rusyaidi Salime, Taufiq Muqminin, Ammirul Emmran, Irfan Asyraf, Firdaus Kasman, Gareth Low (Muhelmy Suhaimi 78), Zulfadhmi Suzliman, Hami Syahin (Shafeeq Faruk 81), Fareez Farhan (Zulqarnaen Suzliman 65), Adam Swandi.