Warriors newcomers help team avoid defeat in S.League clash with DPMM
Zainol and Suto make impressive starts for Warriors
WARRIORS FC 1
(Marijan Suto 89)
BRUNEI DPMM 1
(Paulo Sergio 60)
The heroics of two rookies saved the skin of nine-time champions Warriors FC last night, as they held defending champions Brunei DPMM to a 1-1 draw in a Great Eastern-Yeo's S.League clash at the Choa Chu Kang Stadium.
Between the sticks, 24-year-old goalkeeper Zainol Gulam made his first S.League start in place of suspended veteran Yazid Yasin and produced several big saves to keep his side in the game.
At the other end, teenage striker Marijan Suto popped up to score a dramatic equaliser seconds before the final whistle.
The 19-year-old Croat, registered in Warriors' Prime League (Under-21) side, was only on the pitch because compatriot Nikola Rak failed a late fitness test on an ankle injury.
Warriors coach Jorg Steinebrunner played down the hype surrounding the two.
"It was a decent debut in the S.League for (Suto)," said the German.
"Of course, there are things he can improve on, but he has done well in the Prime League, he trained well the whole week and did well tonight.
"As for Zainol, we knew we had a good backup for Yazid and he proved it tonight.
"To get a result against DPMM, you need to do well defensively and he was a part of the (unit) that did just that."
Both sides had their chances in the first half, but were wasteful in front of goal.
DPMM drew first blood on the hour mark when former Portugal Under-21 forward Paulo Sergio found space in the box and finished past the onrushing Zainol.
Suto, who had impressed with his hold-up play up, went close when he spun and fired a shot that crashed off the crossbar just nine minutes later.
Warriors went close again in the 81st minute, when the ball fell kindly for Poh Yi Feng in the box, but his effort smacked the upright.
Just when it looked like a fourth defeat on the trot was on the cards for the home side, Suto was in the right place at the right time to send a stooping header into the corner of the goal for a dramatic equaliser.
The lanky youngster, whose beaming smile after the game revealed braces on his pearly whites, has had a barnstorming start to life in Singapore since joining the Warriors from third-tier club NK Croatia Zmijavci in his homeland.
Recommended by former Warriors hitman Mislav Karoglan, the S.League's top scorer in 2011, Suto has scored 11 goals in six Prime League matches.
"I'm very, very happy to play and score tonight," he said, through teammate-cum-interpreter Rak.
"I hope I will improve with every game and get more chances with the S.League team."
Zainol, who slumped to his knees in prayer at the final whistle, said: "I'm really happy with the team's fighting spirit.
"Although there were a few nerve-wracking moments for me, the senior players were there to motivate me and help me."
For DPMM, meanwhile, the result stretched their winless run to three games, after defeats at home by Albirex Niigata and Geylang International.
"The lads' chins are on their chests, they're devastated because it feels like a defeat," said coach Steve Kean.
"That's because we created so many chances.
"But we know we have to grind out maybe less impressive performances, those horrible 1-0 wins, and get some momentum again."
- MAN OF THE MATCH: Marijan Suto (Warriors)
- LAST NIGHT'S OTHER MATCH: GEYLANG INTERNATIONAL 3 GARENA YOUNG LIONS 1
- WARRIORS: Zainol Gulam, Ismail Yunos (Fazli Jaffar 60), Hafiz Osman, Kento Fukuda, Zulfadli Zainal Abidin, Syaqir Sulaiman (Hafiz Sulaiman 85), Poh Yi Feng, Hafiz Nor, Jonathan Behe, Ridhuan Muhd (Hafiz Rahim 74), Marijan Suto
- DPMM: Wardun Yussof, Helmi Zambin, Yura Indera Putera, Brian McLean, Najib Tarif, Rosmin Kamis, Maududi Hilmi, Azwan Saleh, Azwan Ali, Paulo Sergio, Rafael Ramazotti