Two-goal Naufal helps SJI win title again
Naufal Taib beamed after helping St Joseph's Institution (SJI) to retain the South Zone C Division football title when they defeated Bendemeer Secondary 3-1 at Toa Payoh Stadium yesterday.
And why not - he was voted Man of the Match.
But, for more than 20 minutes of the 60-minute match, he thought it wasn't going to be his day.
Despite keeping Bendemeer goalkeeper Garv Singh busy with numerous attempts, Naufal ended frustrated as his shots were saved or went wide.
Then, in the 25th minute, Bendemeer captain Irsyad Abdullah sent a swerving corner that forward Hazrin Riffin relayed into the SJI goal.
Fortunately for Naufal, that setback did not last long: just four minutes.
Defending a corner from SJI, Bendemeer left-back Joseph Lewis Manchester miscalculated his clearance and sent the ball into his own goal.
A resurgent SJI returned from the interval and made Bendemeer slog, before Naufal's efforts finally paid off in the 50th minute when he lashed a shot just beyond Garv's reach.
Naufal added his second and final goal of the afternoon four minutes later, to seal the win.
Brushing off his Man of the Match honour, Naufal told The New Paper: "It's not just me, it's really the whole team's effort because everyone contributed and we did it as a team for one another.
"I was quite scared at first, because it looked like we were going to lose, but I'm very happy we managed to make a good comeback."
SJI coach Kadir Yahaya, the former international, said: "I always tell them that it's not just about winning at all costs.
"What's more important is the process of getting to the top and how they carry themselves.
"Seeing them on the field today, I think they've set a very good example of that." - SHARIFAH MUNIRAH