Warriors down DPMM
Weaver's charges impress as they halt leaders' winning streak
(Hafiz Rahim 22)
BRUNEI DPMM 0
It turns out Warriors coach Alex Weaver was right: Great Eastern-Yeo's S.League leaders Brunei DPMM can be beaten after all.
The Bruneian side had been in imperious form heading into last night's top-of-the-table clash at the Choa Chu Kang Stadium, winning seven games on the trot and scoring a whopping 24 goals in the process.
But a 22nd-minute free-kick goal from Warriors midfielder Hafiz Rahim helped his side to the three points, which they fully deserved.
Weaver, who asserted before the game that his charges had no fear of DPMM, stressed the importance of not getting carried away with the win, which cut the Bruneian's lead at the top to just four points.
"It's a big result, but it's only halfway into the season," he said.
"I'm more happy with the performance and where we are as a team right now.
"It (the title race) is not just a matter of them dropping points from now, we've got to take care of ourselves too."
Already missing first-choice right back Jeremy Chiang with a knee injury, Weaver was dealt another blow when key midfielder Tom Beattie failed to recover in time from a head injury.
But the ex-Stoke City academy coach pulled off a masterstroke by starting with rookie winger Suria Prakash.
Ex-Singapore international Shi Jiayi, who would have played offensively, moved into Beattie's defensive role.
INTO THE DEEP END
Prakash may be only 20 years old, but he impressed with his confidence and dribbling ability and did not look out of place in a high-profile game like this.
His performance was typical of the Warriors last night.
Shi had a solid game shielding the backline, Croatian defender Marin Vidosevic was a towering presence, and Argentine striker Nicolas Velez worked tirelessly up front.
Goalkeeper Hassan Sunny was also reliable when called into action, foiling DPMM's 11-goal striker Roy O'Donovan in the 12th minute, when the Irishman was through on goal and had only the custodian to beat.
Hassan later produced a top-class save to deny Azwan Ali's thunderous effort in the 54th minute, which looked destined for the top corner.
That second-half stop even prompted DPMM coach Steve Kean to lavish praise.
"That was a fantastic save, and the turning point of the game for me," said the former Blackburn Rovers manager.
"I was standing right in line with the ball, and there's no way Azwan could have hit that shot better. It was a great shot and a wonderful save."
Weaver, meanwhile, promised there was more to come from his team.
"Maybe we surprised other people with how we've done this season but we certainly haven't surprised ourselves," he said.
"We knew at the beginning of the season... we would do very, very well this season.
"It's just a matter of getting the players focused on continuing to work smart and work hard for the rest of the season."
In last night's other match, Home United defeated Geylang International 4-1 at the Bedok Stadium.
TNP Man of the Match: Nicolas Velez (Warriors)
That was a fantastic save, and the turning point of the game for me. I was standing right in line with the ball, and there’s no way Azwan could have hit that shot better.
— DPMM coach Steve Kean on a 54th-minute save by Warriors goalkeeper Hassan Sunny from Azwan Ali’s shot
LAST NIGHT'S OTHER RESULT
- Geylang 1 Home United 4
- Courts Y Lions v Tampines Rovers (7.30pm, Jalan Besar Stadium)
- Harimau Muda B v Albirex Niigata (8.45pm, Pasir Gudang)