Millennia Institute, Friday, May 17, 2013 — In a game worthy of the final itself, Victoria Junior College (VJC) defeated three-time defending champions Meridian Junior College 2–1 in the semi-final of the National A Division Boys’ Football Championship.
The defeat for MJC means they will not feature in an A Division football final for the first time since 2004. MJC have established themselves as a football powerhouse, having won the A Division football title fives times since the school was founded in 2003.
Two VJC goals in the last five minutes of the first half undid MJC who until then, had the better chances with midfielder Syabil Anwar (#7) and striker Mohamed Faizal (#10) causing problems for VJC. However, they did not seriously threaten the VJC goal and any shots on target were comfortably gathered by VJC goalkeeper, Horatio Ho (#13).
VJC on the other hand, were threatening down the left through Muhammad Deferdauz (#7), who gave MJC right back Hilman Aqil (#15) a hard time with his speed and close control. Despite that, VJC could not create any clear chances on goal.
The VJC coaching staff then made a tactical switch which proved the difference in the game. Deferdauz switched flanks with Nicholas Yong (#9) and that switch led to the first goal. A VJC counter attack after an MJC corner saw the ball land at the feet of Nicholas on the left wing. He cut inside and crossed to find Deferdauz completely unmarked. With all the time in the world, Deferdauz picked his spot and put it past an exposed goalkeeper Nicholas Lee (#1) in the MJC goal.
This was only the second goal MJC had conceded in the entire season so far and it would get worse for them shortly. From a corner by Muhammad Ammar (#10), Bradley Gan (#15) was left unchallenged by Hilman and the VJC centreback got his head first to the ball at the near post to glance a header past MJC goalie Nicholas Lee for a 2–0 VJC lead.
This was the first time in the season MJC had to chase a lead, let alone a two-goal deficit, and it was test of their character. However, while they had enough possession to create chances, none seriously threatened the VJC goal. VJC goalie Horatio Ho had to scramble across his line once to push out one goal-bound shot and on another occasion, he was again in the right spot to gather Faizal’s half-volley from outside the penalty box. MJC substitute Michael Hendrick (#20) had a clear chance in the penalty box but he scythed his effort wide.
VJC managed to defend their lead because they had the composure and skill to play themselves out of trouble in midfield, with Zachary Delf again outstanding with his skill and close control.
With the time ticking away, MJC finally got the break they were looking for when an accidental handball in the penalty box by Zachary saw the referee point to the penalty box. Faizal stepped up to put it past Horatio Ho. The muted celebrations on the pitch were in contrast to that in the stands as the MJC players scrambled to get the game restarted.
Despite having the momentum, MJC could not create further chances and at the final whistle, VJC players celebrated while some MJC players hit the turf in dejection.
“We just did what we did in training. We’ve been practising set-pieces,” said VJC centreback Bradley Gan, whose winning goal was also his first of the season. “I didn’t really see it hit the net until my teammates screamed.”
For Deferdauz, his first goal for VJC was also redemption for a miss in 2012.
“When I got control of the ball, I was really nervous, because last year, against SAJC, I was exactly in the same position, but on the left, and I slipped and missed the ball. So this time, no matter what, I had to get it in for the school,” said Deferdauz.
“I feel really happy and I can’t wait for the final. We’ve worked hard and I think we deserved this,” Deferdauz.
MJC captain, Kelvin Chan (#6), was a picture of disappointment as he sat in a huddle with his equally upset teammates after the game. There were understandably a few red eyes as the result sank in for them.
“We must learn from our mistakes. We can play better than today. Today wasn’t our best and VJ managed to capitalise on it, so credit to them, and I wish them all the best in the final,” said a magnanimous Kelvin.
“All the goals were preventable. The second half was much better, but not enough,” added Kelvin.
VJC will now meet Raffles Institution in the final on Thursday, May 23, at Jalan Besar Stadium. RI needed penalties to beat Anglo-Chinese Junior College 4–1 after the game ended 0–0 with extra time.
Toh Jun Ze Clarence (#1), Zubair Abdullah Bin Mazeli (#2), Muhammad Firdaus bin Asri (#3), Lim Jun Quan (#4), Pritesh P Kamani (#5), Zachary James Delf (#6), Muhammad Deferdauz bin Noordin (#7), Wee Cheng Hao Ryan (#8), Nicholas Yong Chung Wai (#9), Muhammad Ammar bin Mohamad Fazali (#10), Rohit Kumar Singh (#11), Koh Jin Kai (#12), Horatio James Ho (13), Ryuju Osamura (#14), Bradley Gan (#15), Leow Hong Wei Clarence (#16), Aw Wen Hao (#17), Nicholas Low (#18), Dominic Ho Wee Keong (#19), Yeoh Lai Hsin (#20)
Nicholas Lee (#1), Elijah Yeo (#3), Abdul Mteen bin Mohamed Nagib (#4), Muhammad Faiz bin Mohd Basir (#5), Kelvin Chan (#6), Syabil Anwar bin Badrul Hisham (#7), Nazri bin Nordin (#8), Johnny Phua (#9), Mohamed Faizal bin Mohamed Raffi (#10), Muhammad Faisal s/o Md Malik (#11), Alan Yap (#12), Ernest Teh (#14), Hilman Aqil bin Mohd Shari (#15), Ahmad Afiq bin Adam (#17), Joel Chan (#18), Navin Farhan Mohan (#19), Michael Paul Hendrick (#20), Bryant Tan (#21), Haritharan Shamin Kumar (#23), Muhammad Syafie bin Makmor (#25)
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