Tshibamba under fire
Misfiring striker could lose his place in the Warriors' starting line-up
|WARRIORS FC||YOUNG LIONS|
He once scored against Manchester City in the Europa League, slotting past England No. 1 Joe Hart, no less.
But new Warriors FC striker Joel Tshibamba is finding it tough to find the net in the Great Eastern-Hyundai S.League.
Since arriving in Singapore in late February, the 28-year-old Dutch-Congolese striker has played in two S.League matches, and come up empty.
After failing to score against Geylang International, Tshibamba then missed a gilt-edged opportunity against Tampines Rovers, although he was also denied a headed goal by a superb save from Stags goalkeeper Izwan Mahbud.
Already, there is talk he might lose his place in the Warriors starting XI, as the club prepare to entertain the Garena Young Lions tomorrow.
The pressure is on, and Tshibamba knows it.
After cutting a forlorn figure during a training session at the Jurong Stadium yesterday, he politely declined to talk to The New Paper.
"Not today," he said, as he trudged towards the dressing room after the session ended.
"Maybe another time."
Tshibamba arrived in Singapore with an impressive CV.
He started his professional career in Holland with NEC Nijmegen before moving to Poland to play for Arka Gdynia, and then Lech Poznan.
It was with Lech in Oct 2010 when the striker scored against City at the City of Manchester Stadium in a Europa League Group A tie.
After leaving the Polish side at the end of that season, Tshibamba played for top-tier clubs in Greece, China, Denmark, Armenia, Bulgaria and Slovenia, before landing in the S.League.
Warriors head coach Razif Onn said the striker's record counts for nothing if he can't put the ball in the back of the net here.
"Sometimes new foreign strikers take a while to settle with their teammates," he said.
"But I cannot wait too long.
"Joel is my out-and-out striker, and I need him to score.
"Our attacking players like Shahril (Ishak), Jordan (Webb) and the wingers Hafiz Nor and Ridhuan (Muhammad) have a good understanding with each other, but (Tshibamba) is not there yet."
Whether Razif decides to keep faith with Tshibamba tomorrow remains to be seen.
The veteran coach has warned his charges they cannot afford to be complacent against the Under-22 developmental side, who are rock bottom having lost all four games this season, conceding 14 goals and scoring just one.
"They might be a bit demoralised by the losses," said the 63-year-old.
"But a win, or even holding us to a draw, would be a fantastic result for them, so they might be motivated to perform.
"Plus, they have a lot of young guys so they're quicker than us.
"We have been creating a lot of chances in our three games but we've scored only four goals, and three were from set pieces (one penalty, two corner kicks).
"We have the same number of points as Home United but they have scored 11 goals, and later on in the season, goal difference might prove important.
"So I've told the boys we need to put away our chances, the sooner the better."
- Balestier v Brunei DPMM (Tonight, 7.30pm,Jalan Besar Stadium)
- Geylang International v Tampines Rovers (Tomorrow, 7.30pm, Jalan Besar Stadium)