Sembawang push to the final
Wonder strike and great goalkeeping help underdogs advance
As the final whistle sounded, the players from Sembawang Secondary School swarmed teammates Ryil Mitra Razlisham and Aravinthan.
The duo had just played pivotal roles in their school's 1-0 victory over the Singapore Sports School in their North Zone C boys semi-final at Tampines Safra yesterday.
Mitra was the goal hero, while Aravinthan was the goalkeeping star, pulling off several quality saves as Sembawang overcame the favourites, who had beaten them 2-1 in a preliminary-round encounter.
Speaking after the match, Mitra said: "I was confident that we could beat the Sports School because we lost narrowly to them the last time.
"We gave our best today and we did well."
But it wasn't exactly smooth sailing for Sembawang, as they had to contend with the slick passing and patient build-up play of the Sports School, who dominated possession in the first half.
The dominance amounted to little, as they were unable to create any clear-cut chances due to Sembawang's resolute defending.
The game sparked to life in the second half.
Minutes after the restart, Mitra struck a goal worthy of a winner.
The 14-year-old capitalised on a poor touch by a Sports School midfielder on the edge of the opposing centre circle and, with his back to goal, instinctively swivelled and fired, catching the opposing goalkeeper way off his line as the ball nested into the back of the net.
The goal forced the Sports School to go for broke, but they were left frustrated as Aravinthan stepped up with a number of spectacular saves including one with his legs, which saw the ball deflected onto the crossbar after a close-range shot.
"I'm so happy we won. All along, my coaches have told me to be more confident and more commanding and that's what I did," said the 14-year-old.
With the win, Sembawang booked a place in the final against Sengkang Secondary School, who had earlier defeated Woodgrove Secondary School 3-0.
The final takes place on Thursday at Temasek Polytechnic.
Sembawang's teacher-in-charge of football Marc Ong didn't want to look ahead as he praised his boys.
"They were very resolute, very committed and, even though they knew they were playing against a strong team, they gave it their all and managed to prevail and I am very happy for them," he said.
"They have come a long way.
"Physically, they can still improve and tactically, they can also do better, but they are a good group and can go very far."
"They were very resolute, very committed and, even though they knew they were playing against a strong team, they gave it their all and managed to prevail and I am very happy for them."
- Sembawang’s teacher-in-charge of football Marc Ong, on his players