Home run riot over Young Lions
Striker Plazibat grabs four goals as Protectors send warning to title rivals
|HOME UNITED||GARENA YOUNG LIONS|
|(Faris Ramli 23, Stipe Plazibat 30, 40, 55, 75, Khairul Nizam 61)||(Zulqarnaen Suzliman 51)|
Home United underscored their credentials as contenders for this season's Great Eastern-Hyundai S.League with a thumping 6-1 win over the Garena Young Lions at Bishan Stadium last night.
The Protectors last won the S.League in 2003 but have assembled a squad that are, on paper at least, arguably one of the best this season.
And they showed last night that it will be very difficult to stop them if their players click into gear.
The lopsided scoreline flattered the Young Lions.
Only the heroics of goalkeeper Zharfan Rohaizad, who denied Faris Ramli with two great saves, including one from a penalty, and a goalline clearance late on, prevented an even heavier defeat.
Faris opened the scoring with a low finish in the 23rd minute, before Stipe Plazibat grabbed two goals in 10 minutes to ensure the game was effectively over at half-time.
The Young Lions pulled one back six minutes after the break through substitute Zulqarnaen Suzliman, but Plazibat restored his side's three-goal advantage just four minutes later, completing his hat-trick.
Khairul Nizam added a fifth in the 61st minute - three minutes after Faris' spot-kick miss - before Plazibat completed the rout with a free-kick in the 75th minute.
While stiffer challenges await Home, the Protectors will have to be considered serious challengers to defending champions Albirex Niigata.
Four-goal hero Plazibat, clutching the match ball under his arm, said: "Before the season, a lot of people wrote about me replacing (19-goal striker) Ken Ilso.
"After this game, I hope they will talk only about me.
"I know it's only one game, but I need to continue to do the same, trying to score.
"There are a lot of things we can improve on as a team but, day by day, we look better and better.
"Now we've started very well, we have to continue this way."
Coach Aidil Sharin said that while his side boast firepower, the key would be to stay solid in defence throughout the season.
"Last year, we conceded a lot of goals (42 in 24 games)," he said.
"To me, Albirex won the title last season because they conceded the least (24 goals).
"If we defend well and keep scoring, we'll be up there.
"That's the reason we signed Hassan (Sunny, goalkeeper) and Afiq (Yunos, centre back) to add height and strength to our defence."
Added Aidil: "For the past four years, (Home) have not won our first game of the season, so today, we broke that hoodoo.
"The goals also pleased me today. The players did not show any mercy. Even when we were 3-0 or 4-1 up, they kept going, trying to score more."
Young Lions coach V Selvaraj, meanwhile, is confident his players would bounce back from the demoralising loss.
"I asked the boys after the game, 'What's going to happen from here?'," he said.
"And they said, 'We have to learn'. Every game will be a battle and a lesson.
"The boys will be doing battle with senior players, national players, foreign players, and there will be many instances of the difference in quality.
"This bunch of boys I have are eager to learn and get better.
"So we just have to take it one game at a time, set objectives one game at a time, practise in training and try to carry out what we are supposed to.
"Soon, the results will go our way."
LAST NIGHT'S OTHER RESULT
- Hougang United 2 (Fumiya Kogure 24, Iqbal Hussain 87) Geylang International 0
- Balestier Khalsa v Warriors FC (7.30pm, Toa Payoh Stadium)