Story by REDintern Alan Chiang. Photos by Lai Jun Wei/Red Sports and Vanessa Lim/Red Sports
A Young Lion fires off a shot. (Photo 1 © Lai Jun Wei/Red Sports)
Jalan Besar Stadium, Friday, February 27, 2009 - Khairul Nizam scored on his S.League debut for the Young Lions but his dream start was dampened by a last-minute Abu Bakar Mahari goal as S.League newcomers Brunei DPMM FC snatched a 1-1 draw in their S.League Football Championship game.
DPMM drew first blood when with barely two minutes of play gone by, Azwan Saleh unleashed a powerful shot that hit the side netting. South Korean import Oh Ddog Yi then had the chance to put the visitors a goal up when he was put clear on goal by Shahrazen Said. The ball however ended up on the roof of the Young Lions goal.
Khairul Nizam then found himself one-on-one against DPMM goalkeeper Wardun Yussof but his nerves got the better of him and he could not finish.
DPMM took the game to the Young Lions, with Shahrazen Said constantly attacking the Young Lions' goal. He had a one-on-one chance after he was put through by Rosmin Kamis but nothing came of it.
DPMM threatened again when Yussof Salleh had his header cleared off the line after a Rosmin Kamis corner kick.
The Young Lions finally broke through two minutes before the break when Khairul Nizam tapped in from close range after an unselfish pass from Irwan Shah who was put through by Gabriel Quak. Nizam’s euphoric celebration was very much that of an 18-year-old S.League debutant.
The impressive Goh Swee Swee, who had an excellent long-range first-half effort saved, sustained an injury in the second half and was substituted by 18-year-old Eugene Luo, who made his S.League debut last week against the Super Reds.
Growing confidence saw Young Lions centre-back Obadin Aikhena joining the attack on occasions, showing some remarkable close control.
Khairul Nizam then had a good opportunity to increase the lead after Faritz Abdul Hameed's accurate cross beat the offside trap but he squandered it with poor control.
DPMM substitute Abu Bakar Mahari then had a glorious chance to equalise cleared off the line by Isa Halim after the Young Lions defence was left in disarray.
With three minutes of stoppage time, it seemed all over for DPMM but inexperience cost the Young Lions as they forgot to play possession football. Young Lion Hamqaamal Shah lost the ball just inside the DPMM half and the Bruneian team swung into a swift counter-attack down the left flank. An exposed Singapore defence could do little to stop Abu Bakar Mahari volleying home the equalizing goal.
"The game is excellent. I am happy for my team to be able to play in the S-League," said the Brunei DPMM coach Vjeran Simunic who jumped for joy and hugged his players at the equaliser. "We played an open attacking game with 3-5-2 formationâ€¦ my team can change tactics and formation anytime as I trust my players to be very competitive."
"These boys are still young so it will be a lesson for them to learn,” said Young Lions coach Terry Pathmanathan, on the last-minute equaliser. “It will be a matter of how much they learn and how fast they learn to compete with the other teams in this league."
Khairul Nizam, still buzzing after his debut goal, was understandably all smiles. "I am happy and excited as well as nervous because it was my first match in the S-League."
Young Lions (4-4-2)
Hyrulnizam Juma'at, Irwan Shah, Obadin Aikhena, Shahir Hamzah, Faritz Abdul Hameed, Gabriel Quak, Arif Aiman (Hafiz Abu Sujad, 64), Isa Halim, Goh Swee Swee (Eugene Luo, 53), Fadhil Noh (Hamqaamal Shah, 80), Khairul Nizam
Brunei DPMM (3-5-2)
Wardun Yussof, Pg Sallehuddin Damit, Rene Komar, Yusof Salleh, Sairol Sahari (Helmi Zambin, 31), Azwan Saleh, Ivan Jerkovic, Haji Subhi Abdilah (Hardi Bujang, 63), Rosmin Kamis (Abu Bakar Mahari, 74), Oh Ddog Yi, Shahrazen Said
Irwan Shah (Young Lions, #10) passes the ball just as Brunei DPPM goalkeeper Wardun Yussof closes in… (Photo 2 © Lai Jun Wei/Red Sports)
… and Khairul Nizam (Young Lions, #26) closes in… (Photo 3 © Vanessa Lim/Red Sports)
… to tap in the first goal of the evening. (Photo 4 © Lai Jun Wei/Red Sports)
Khairul Nizam celebrate with Goh Swee Swee his first goal in the S.League on his debut. (Photo 5 © Lai Jun Wei/Red Sports)
With one minute of regulation time left, Nizam was called offside, missing a golden opportunity to put the Young Lions further ahead. (Photo 6 © Lai Jun Wei/Red Sports)
The lack of a second goal came back to haunt the Young Lions as Abu Bakar Mahari (Brunei DPPM, #17) volleys in the equaliser in extra-time. (Photo 7 © Lai Jun Wei/Red Sports)
Goh Swee Swee (Young Lions, #10) gives Pg Sallehuddin Damit (Brunei DPPM, #6) a bear hug in a bid to tackle him. (Photo 8 © Lai Jun Wei/Red Sports)
Gabriel Quak (Young Lions, #10) tries to keep possession. (Photo 9 © Lai Jun Wei/Red Sports)
Sairol Sahari (Brunei DPPM, #3) tries to take down Faritz Abdul Sujad (Young Lions, #9) in what seems more like a rugby tackle. (Photo 10 © Lai Jun Wei/Red Sports)
Goh Swee Swee goes up for a mid air challenge. (Photo 11 © Lai Jun Wei/Red Sports)
Gabriel Quak takes down a long pass, but he was in an offside position. (Photo 12 © Lai Jun Wei/Red Sports)
Young Lions goalkeepr Hyrulnizam Juma’at (#1) tries to catch hold of a header by Korean import Oh Ddog Yi (Brunei DPPM, #25). (Photo 13 © Lai Jun Wei/Red Sports)
“We want goals!” A Young Lions supporter cheers on the team. (Photo 14 © Lai Jun Wei/Red Sports)
Captain Isa Halim (Young Lions, #4) tries to keep his balance while facing some strong pressure from his opponent. (Photo 15 © Lai Jun Wei/Red Sports)
“Eh, who wants the ball?” Faritz Abdul Hameed looks for a teammate for a throw-in. (Photo 16 © Lai Jun Wei/Red Sports)
Obadin Aikhena (Young Lions, #20) loses possession of the ball after a tackle. (Photo 17 © Lai Jun Wei/Red Sports)
Pg Sallehuddin Damit tries a flying intercept in a bid to stop a pass from reaching Fadhil Noh (Young Lions, #25). (Photo 18 © Lai Jun Wei/Red Sports)
Brunei DPPM coach Vjeran Simunic reacts with frustration as his team failed to convert a well-placed corner kick. He was earlier warned by the referee for kicking a water bottle onto the pitch. (Photo 19 © Lai Jun Wei/Red Sports)
Hafiz Abu Sujad (Young Lions, #8) gets outmuscled by his opponent. (Photo 20 © Lai Jun Wei/Red Sports)
Isa Halim and Oh Ddog Yi tussle for the ball. (Photo 21 © Lai Jun Wei/Red Sports)
Gabriel Quak tries to find his way through. (Photo 22 © Lai Jun Wei/Red Sports)
Khairul Nizam in a one-on-one situation with the Brunei DPPM goalkeeper but nerves got the better of him. (Photo 23 © Lai Jun Wei/Red Sports)
Young Lions fans pose in front of the team banner. (Photo 24 © Lai Jun Wei/Red Sports)
The Brunei DPPM players celebrate at the final whistle, just moments after the equalising goal in extra-time. (Photo 25 © Lai Jun Wei/Red Sports)
Young Lions supporters graciously applaud the Brunei DPPM players when they troop by. (Photo 26 © Lai Jun Wei/Red Sports)
Fadhil Noh attempting to get past the defender. (Photo 27 © Vanessa Lim/Red Sports)
An attempt by Khairul Nizam missed the net and ends up in the keeper’s hands instead. (Photo 28 © Vanessa Lim/Red Sports)
A hard tackle by Rene Komar (Brunei DPPM, #5). (Photo 29 © Vanessa Lim/Red Sports)
Brunei DPPM goalkeeper Wardun Yussof takes possession of the ball. (Photo 30 © Vanessa Lim/Red Sports)
Azwan Saleh (Brunei DPMM, #7) and Eugene Luo (Young Lions, #27) rushing for the ball. (Photo 31 © Vanessa Lim/Red Sports)
A yellow card being shown to one of the Brunei DPMM players. (Photo 32 © Vanessa Lim/Red Sports)
Yusof Salleh (Brunei DPPM, #2) tries to steal the ball away. (Photo 33 © Vanessa Lim/Red Sports)
Obadin Alkena (Young Lions, #20) maneuvering past an an opponent’s tackle. (Photo 34 © Vanessa Lim/Red Sports)
Eugene Luo (Young Lions, #27) and Hadi Bujang (DPMM, #9) fighting for the ball. (Photo 35 © Vanessa Lim/Red Sports)
More pictures in the gallery.