Story by REDintern Noor Farhan. Pictures by REDintern Tan Jon Han
Federico Martinez (SAFFC #13, blue) exhales in despair about another wasted opportunity. The Warriors, playing with 10 men for most of the second half, failed to find an answer to the might and quality displayed by the Suwon Bluewings. (Photo 1 © Tan Jon Han/Red Sports)
Jalan Besar Stadium, Wednesday, 10 March 2010 - Singapore Armed Forces Football Club (SAFFC) succumbed to a 2-0 defeat at home at the hands of K-League giants Suwon Samsung Bluewings Football Club in a game that featured South Korean internationals Lee Woon Jae and Song Chong Gug as well as ex-Everton player Li Weifeng. The scoreline represented a repeat of their previous encounter, in which SAFFC also lost 2-0 to Suwon Bluewings then.
SAFFC did well to repel the Suwon attacks in the first half as they got pinned back in their own area from as early at the 15th minute. Singapore international Daniel Bennett stood out in the first half as he managed to neuter most of Suwon's attacking impetus, with timely interceptions and no-nonsense defending at the heart of defence.
However, Suwon Bluewings' excellent approach play was rewarded when midfielder Lee Gil Hoon managed to ping in a shot from the right side of the penalty box. That brought the best out of SAFFC goalkeeper Shahril Jantan who managed a lightning parry to the left at waist level to deny the opposition.
The Warriors also had ideas of their own as forward Indra Sahdan pounced on a through pass by his midfield at in the 20th minute. Indra's effort was however all too comfortable for the highly experienced Suwon custodian Lee Woon Jae, who had a relatively easy game, as he calmly collected the shot.
Suwon's Brazillian striker Jose Mota was a constant thorn to the SAFFC defence as his intelligent off-the-ball running found him space to shoot from the centre of the penalty box in the 23rd minute, but it was turned away by the alert Shahril Jantan.
Jose Mota again found space to shoot in the 34th minute after finding himself free on the left side, but could not bury his shot after being closed down by the SAFFC defence.
By this point, the home side's defensive tactics seemed to work as the visitors were quickly closed down before they could make any telling passes. Wingers Ahmad Latiff and Akiyoshi Taisuke were seen helping out their full-backs to defend from the sides. As a results, there were hardly any attacking runs down the flanks by the pair for most of the first half.
SAFFC's best chance of the period fell to Indra Sahdan in the 44th minute. Akiyoshi Taisuke began the attacking move, managing to beat the offside trap from the left flank and embarking on a lung-bursting run into the penalty box. His cross found Ahmad Latiff on the right, whose accurate cut back to Indra saw the latter hammering his effort over the bar, much to the chagrin of the local fans in attendance.
However all their good work was undone with one minute to go in the first half when SAFFC conceded a free-kick at the right edge of their own penalty area. Suwon's Brazillian defender Juninho Vendrechovski managed a magnificent free-kick that thundered past the SAFFC wall into the top right corner of the net, despite Shahril Jantan's despairing dive to give Suwon a 1-0 lead against the Warriors.
The second half saw SAFFC going for the jugular as they attempted an offensive in an attempt to level the score line.
In the 51st minute, SAFFC left back Razaleigh Khalik managed to charge down the left as he received an accurate long diagonal ball from central midfield and went past a Suwon defender. Their keeper Lee Woon Jae could only watch as Razaleigh's low cross trickled across the face of goal, but fortunately for him it was a bridge too far for SAFFC forward Federico Martinez ,who had a match to forget that day.
Ivan Lovric was given his marching orders a few minutes later after receiving his second yellow card of the night and SAFFC were reduced to 10 men with 34 minutes to go.
The Warriors never managed to recover after that as they struggled to find a way past the Suwon rearguard even as Indra Sahdan made way for midfielder Mustaqim Manzur. Instead, the Bluewings managed to score again through their livewire forward Jose Mota, as he ended a brilliant passing movement with a venomous shot from the centre that rippled the back of the net to make it 2-0 in the 72nd minute.
In the 82nd minute, substitute Mustaqim Manzur's good work down the right found him space to send in a cross but again, Federico Martinez could only stand and watch as he failed to connect with the pass.
The game ended at a pedestrian pace as Suwon Bluewings edged past their opponents 2-0, with the Warriors clearly stretched playing with 10 men against their illustrious opponents.
"We recognized that SAFFC had a good defence and were speedy on the counter, so we decided to cut off the ball to their sides," commented Suwon coach Cha Bum Kun in the post match press conference, on their original plan to neutralise the Warriors.
"Playing with 10 men (against Suwon Bluewings) stretched us a lot. Perhaps we could have coped in the S-League, but at this level it's very hard," said Richard Bok, SAFFC coach.
Shahril Jantan (captain), Razaleigh Khalik, Hafiz O, Niklas Sandberg, Ivan Lovric, Ahmad Latiff Kamarudin, Daniel Bennett, Rai Roshan, Federico Martinez, Indra Sahdan Daud, Akiyoshi Taisuke
Hyrulnizam Juma'at, Erwan Gunawan, Syaiful Iskandar, Mustaqim Manzur, Azfar Bin Zainal Abidin, Dharham, Hanafi
Kok Wai Leong
Suwon Samsung Bluewings Lineup
Lee Woon Jae, Junior Anselmo Vendrechovski (Juninho), Li Weifeng, Cho Won Hee (captain), Jose Roberto Rodrigues Mota Junior (Jose Mota), Oh Jae Suk, Lee Gil Hoon, Yang Juna, Seo Dong Hyun, Yang Sang Min, Kwak Hee Ju
Song Chong Gug, Lee Hyun Jun, Lee Dong Sik, Kim Dae Eui, Baek Ji Hoon, Kim Dae Hwan, Choi Sung Hwan
Kim Jin Hoon
Cha Bum Kun
Mohamed Abdelkarim Mohamed Ismail Alzarouni ( United Arab Emirates)
Shahril Jantan (SAFFC, GK, C, #14) looks on as Suwon mount another attack. (Photo 2 © Tan Jon Han/Red Sports)
Aselmo Vendrechovski Jr (Suwon #13) watches as his free kick is sent straight into the Warrior’s wall. (Photo 3 © Tan Jon Han/Red Sports)
Ahmad Latiff (SAFFC #7) going in for the ball as Suwon’s #28 crosses one in. (Photo 4 © Tan Jon Han/Red Sports)
Despite conceding a goal just before half time, the Warriors’ supporters continued with their cheers and support for their team. (Photo 5 © Tan Jon Han/Red Sports)
Ivan Lovric (SAFFC #6) has a word with the referee after being shown a second yellow for a soft challenge. (Photo 6 © Tan Jon Han/Red Sports)
Niklas Sandnerg (SAFFC #5) in an aerial duel with the Suwon #20. (Photo 7 © Tan Jon Han/Red Sports)
Indra Sahdan (SAFFC #17) under the close watch of a Suwon defender as he brings the ball into the penalty area. (Photo 8 © Tan Jon Han/Red Sports)
Ahmad Latiff (SAFFC #7) appears to have been fouled in the penalty box during one of the rare scoring opportunities for the Warriors in the second half. (Photo 9 © Tan Jon Han/Red Sports)
Lee Woon Jae (Suwon, GK #1) watches as the ball, having failed to connect with Federico Martinez (SAFFC #13), floats across his goalmouth. (Photo 10 © Tan Jon Han/Red Sports)