By Stefanus Ian/Red Sports. Photos by Low Sze Sen/Red Sports
Muhelmy Suhaimi (Singapore U15 #8) keeping pace with Flamengo’s Leandro Carvalho (#11). (Photo 1 © Low Sze Sen/Red Sports)
Jalan Besar Stadium, Friday, June 24, 2011 – CR FlamengoU15s crushed the Singapore U15 team 3-0 in the Lion City Cup semi-final to show why they were the favourites to win the event.
The Cubs were no match against the flair and pace of the Brazilians as they struggled to impose themselves throughout the match. After a blunder in the first half led to the first goal, the visitors sealed the match with two goals after half time to cruise into the final. Despite the result, Dejan Gluscevic, the Singapore U15 coach, felt that he learned a lot about his charges from the game.
“Even though we lose this game, I’m happy because as a coach I saw the limits of my players playing against a physically and technically better team,” said Gluscevic.
The semi-final seemed evenly matched from the kick off as both teams battled hard for possession. However, both teams could not find the all-important final ball in their respective attacking ends. Boasting skilful and tricky number 10s, both Adam Swandi of Singapore and Caio Rangel of Flamengo ran the show for their teams, dictating attacks and weaving magic.
Singapore were calm under pressure but there is a fine line between calm and casual. The home side’s defense was at times too relaxed, giving away the ball cheaply. Although they managed to recover most of the time, they never settled into the game. It was also clear that the Flamengo had a slight technical advantage over the local boys. Nevertheless, the Cubs, clad in blue, made it up with disciplined and tireless defending.
At this point, the game was very close. It felt like it would take a magical moment or a mistake to decide the outcome of the game.
The deadlock was broken unceremoniously in the 38th minute by Jorge Marco (CR Flamengo #6). After some good work down the right, the Brazilian boys switched flanks and found Jorge Marco on the left. As he dribbled forward he seemed to be running out of space, but fancying his chances, he unleashed a shot towards the near post. Everybody expected the goalkeeper to pull out a routine save but he seemed to take his eye off the ball as he palmed the shot into his own goal instead, to the shock of the Singaporean fans in the stand. Heirul Suhanes (Singapore U15 #1) must have wanted the ground to swallow him up as he was overcome with anguish.
With Flamengo comfortably in the lead and Singapore wary of conceding another goal, both sides became very cautious in the last few minutes of the first half.
The Cubs were reluctant to play long balls, due to their height disadvantage. Hence, they choose to play almost all of their goal kicks short. By the second half, the Brazilian boys took advantage of this by pressing from much higher up, closing down the Singapore defense quickly when they had the ball.
This almost paid off when Leonardo Poubel (CR Flamengo U15 #7) intercepted one of Heirul’s short goal kicks. However, the defense was quick to react and the visitors could not capitalize on that mistake. However, it only heaped more pressure onto the young shoulders of the U15 Cubs. The Singaporean boys struggled to impose themselves in the game as Flamengo dictated the play with their delightful passing and dribbling.
At the stroke of the hour, the Brazilians began to pull away. Aaravin (Singapore U15 #5) was yellow carded for a late lunge on Caio Rangel (CR Flamengo #10) and the resulting free kick led to the second goal. As the ball was lobbed in, Muhelmy Suhaimi (Singapore U15 #8) thought he could reach the ball as he jumped to head the ball away. However, he could not get enough power as he headed the ball backwards towards the goal, catching Heirul Suhanes off guard.
Two goals down with about half an hour left to play, Singapore’s game plan was crumbling. Credit to the Cubs, they never let up as they continued to battle hard for possession and were always looking to deny their opponents space and time.
Ehvin Sasidharan summed up his team’s mindset today: “The players we played against today were tough but whatever the result is, my team will always give 100% till the last minute.”
However, with the Cubs offense also on holiday, it seemed like a comeback was impossible when Flamengo scored with 10 minutes left on the clock. As Muhelmy received the ball in the middle of the park, he cramped up, allowing Leandro Carvalho (CR Flamengo #11) to steal the ball to launch a counter attack. Seeing Caio Rangel ahead of him, he instinctively played a through ball for his teammate to thump into the back of the net.
Coasting to the final, Flamengo were dealt a blow when the referee produced a second yellow card to send off Herson Pinheiro (CR Flamengo #8) after a late challenge. The seemingly harsh decision meant that Pinheiro is now ruled out of Sunday’s final against Singapore U16.
The Brazilians were clearly unhappy with the decision as Celso Martins, the Flamengo coach, remarked after the game: ”I’m very upset with the way the match officials conducted the match, it is even worse for the player who was sent off.
“It is unjust especially since he has travelled 24 hours all the way here only to miss the final. What happened on the pitch was unfair especially since the player was a leader on the pitch, so to be out of the final especially at such a young age, the boy is devastated.”
The team manager, Carlos Brazil, further added, “The football was good but the officials really did a messy job.”
Singapore U15 Lineup
Heirul Suhanes (#1), Ehvin Sasidharan (#2), Mahathir Azeman (#3), R Aaravin (#5), Amirul Azmi (#6), Zulfadhmi Suzliman (#7), Muhelmy Suhaimi (#8), Irfan Iezran (#9), Adam Swandi (#10), Azhar Ramli (#11), Taufiq Hossain (#21)
CR Flamengo U15 Lineup
Thiago Rodrigues (#1), Ian Evans (#2), Lincoln Fernando (#3), Mathues Carvalho (#4), Jorge Marco (#6), Leonardo Poubel (#7), Herson Pinheiro (#8), Arlindo Neto (#9), Caio Rangel (#10), Leandro Carvalho (#11), Pedro Fernandes (#14)
Man-of-the-Match: Caio Rangel (CR Flamengo U15 #10)