Injured Shahaf Shalev puts the icing on VJC's cake
Midfielder scores last-gasp goal as her school win their 12th football title
Last month, Victoria Junior College (VJC) footballer Shahaf Shalev fractured her right sesamoid bone, the joint beneath the big toe, during her opening match in the National Schools A Division campaign.
|VICTORIA JC||ST ANDREW'S JC|
|(Nur Darwisyah Haidi 6, Lily Rozana Aung 30-og, Shahaf Shalev 80+2)|
She was told that she would need three months to recover but she was insistent on playing the final against St Andrew's Junior College (SAJC) at the Jalan Besar Stadium yesterday.
The 1.50m midfielder came in with only 10 minutes left, sending the ball to the top-left corner at the death to make it 3-0, sealing VJC's seventh straight title to the cheers of their sea of yellow-clad fans.
"I'm still injured now. I've been benched since the first match but I just could not accept it. I love this sport and I worked so hard. I didn't want to miss out on playing a few minutes in the final," said the second-year student, 18.
"When I went to the doctor's last week, I told him I would only leave with him saying yes to me playing.
"When coach Lawrence Lee put me in, I told myself that I have to do something. I had a feeling this one would go in, so I told my teammate to leave it and it really went in!"
Off a scramble from a corner, Shahaf calmly collected the rebound and placed it past custodian Gladys Cheng.
Shahaf, who entered VJC via the direct-school admission (DSA) system, scored a brace in the first group-stage match against St Joseph's Institution.
But she had to be sidelined for the next three games, leaving her hungry for game time.
Her father, Ofir Shalev, 47, took her to several doctors, hoping for a speedy recovery and was glad to see his daughter contribute on the field again.
"She really wanted to play in the final, so she kept seeing different doctors," said coach Lee.
"Once a doctor gave the green light, we allowed her to play."
Asked how it felt that VJC won their 12th football title, he said: "The girls really wanted it. Up front, they were very hungry and that's why we got an early goal.
"I'd also like to give a special mention to Nur Darwisyah Haidi. It's the fasting month and she still ran her socks off."
Captain Darwisyah, 18, gave VJC a sixth-minute lead, showed steady control and was their main playmaker. She was a national U-16 and U-19 player.
Yesterday's win brought her gold medal tally to six, having won last year's A Division title and also four previous titles at Bowen Secondary School.
Deseree Khor, 17, grabbed her second winner's medal in her first year at VJC, after winning the javelin event at the National Track and Field Championships two months ago.
The striker had the ball in the net in the 20th minute, but it was disallowed for offside.
She was still irked after the game. However, she looks forward to scoring more next year.
The second goal was an own-goal in the 30th minute, when SAJC's Lily Rozana Aung headed the ball in while trying to clear Darwisyah's corner kick.
SAJC coach Loh Ngiap Tai, 44, was still proud of her team, as they reached the final for the first time since 2011.
"It's a good start. This is an encouragement to the team to keep working hard.
"Especially since this year, we did not have any DSA players, so they all started from scratch."