S.League Mid-term Report: Must improve

To kick off our mid-season review of the 2012 Great Eastern-YEO's S.League campaign, we take a look at the sides who could be doing a slight bit better.

Karoglan being illegally hauled back...

SAFFC

To be fair, it has been a funny old season so far for the Warriors, who at times this year have seemingly been devoid of good fortune. After picking up one point in their opening three games, which included unlucky defeats to Albirex Niigata and DPMM FC, SAFFC bounced back with two consecutive wins over Courts Young Lions and Tanjong Pagar United, only to then go on a three-game winless streak.

However, three straight 1-0 wins and a 2-2 draw against Geylang United saw them climb up to seventh in the table and they have shown signs of improvement.

And while it doesn't take away the fact that they are expected to be challenging for the title, we, and many of the other teams, are expecting order to be restored in the second half of the campaign.

Mid-term Player of the Season: Shahril Jantan

While Shahril's position as Richard Bok's first-choice goalkeeper may have been aided by a season-ending injury to rival Hassan Sunny, there's no denying that the veteran is currently one of the best custodians in the league.

The 32-year-old has put in a number of blinding displays for the Warriors and has been very unlucky to end up on the losing side in several games this season, especially in the 1-0 loss to Balestier Khalsa at the Toa Payoh Stadium, where he singlehandedly kept his side in the game with a string of fine saves.

What they said

"We can do better. If you look at the 12 games we played, we actually did reasonably well in the opening six to seven games but we just didn't get the result. Football is a funny thing; I hope we can come back. Hopefully with hard work and a little bit of luck, we can do better." - SAFFC coach Richard Bok

"We aren't very satisfied with the situation in the league but we can't change anything about that. We can only look ahead of us and try to close the gap, and hopefully get somewhere in the RHB Singapore Cup." - SAFFC striker Mislav Karoglan

ESPNSTAR.com's Mid-term Grade: 4.5/10


Hougang United

It was always going to be difficult for the Cheetahs to live up to expectations after last season's seventh-placed finish in the league, as well as their run to the final of the League Cup. However, even to most hardcore of Hougang fans, and there are many of them, will be slightly disappointed with the way the Hougang Stadium outfit have performed so far.

While coach Nenad Bacina is trying his best to get his troops to play a refreshing brand of attacking football, his players are too one-dimensional. Midfield general Ante Barac is an excellent distributor but offers little more than the odd killer pass, while striker Mamadou Diallo never stops running but struggles to put the ball into the back of the net.

Because of that, Hougang have become over-reliant on mercurial forward Jordan Webb, but even he is susceptible to the odd poor game.

Mid-term Player of the Season: Stanislav Vidakovic

The one player that has not disappointed for the Cheetahs this season has been Vidakovic, who has been a calming influence at the back, no mean feat when you consider some of the players he has alongside him.

The Croatian's take-no-prisoners approach has seen him rapidly become a fans' favourite and he's the one Hougang player who tries his absolute hardest whenever he takes to the field.

ESPNSTAR.com's Mid-term Grade: 4/10


Woodlands Wellington

The season started promisingly for Woodlands as they opened with two wins over Courts Young Lions and Geylang United. However, they have since gone the next ten games without victory and have picked up just two points in that time.

However, the fact that the Rams are currently second from bottom reflects how competitive the S.League is this season, as they haven't exactly been poor. Up front, Moon Soon-ho and Hussein Akil have struck up a fantastic understanding and are one of the most-dangerous strike partnerships in the competition, while wing duo Guntur Djafril and Goh Swee Swee provide plenty of energy out wide.

It is perhaps in the centre of midfield where the Rams truly lack a top-class player although whether or not they have the resources to bring in a real star remains to be seen.

Mid-term Player of the Season: Duncan Elias


The Rams vice-captain has missed a number of games through injury but when he has played, he has put in several accomplished displays despite receiving little support from his team-mates.

And while Woodlands haven't exactly had the best of defensive records this season, they actually have a pretty decent backline on paper with Elias and K. Sathiaraj flanking the central duo of Daniel Hammond and Fabien Lewis.

Elias' ability from dead-ball situations has also been one of his side's major threats going forward, and we expect more accomplished displays from the classy left-back in the second round of the season.

ESPNSTAR.com's Mid-term Grade: 4.5/10


Geylang United

Following an awful start to the season, the Geylang management moved quickly to change things around by replacing Mike Wong with Prime League coach V. Kanan. So far, he has led the Eagles to a couple of impressive result, including a 3-1 win over Balestier and there are certainly signs of improvement. However, finishing bottom is unthinkable for a club of Geylang's stature and the next 12 games will be absolutely crucial.

The Bedok-based side have a real star in Michael King while 20-year-old Amy Recha has shown promising signs and should be given more game time to aid his development. However, the Eagles do look very shaky at the back and that's something Kanan has looked to fix by bringing in Khayrulhayat Jumat, his Prime League captain from last year, from Hougang.

Mid-term Player of the Season: Yazid Yasin


Considering Geylang currently have the worst defensive record in the competition, the fact that we've gone for Yazid as our top Eagle goes to show how important he has been for them. There have been games where there was little he could do as his side fell to comprehensive defeats, but in matches like the 2-2 draw against SAFFC and 2-0 win over Young Lions, he has been the difference between them grabbing a share of the spoils and leaving empty-handed.

Also playing a huge part in nabbing two match-fixers, Yazid is living proof that there are still good guys in football these days.

What they said

"In the second half of the first round, I think the team did okay. We just couldn't get the result in some games as we were lacking match-winners. The main area where we were lacking in was creativity and we currently have a number of foreigners on trial whom we believe might solve the problem." - V. Kanan, Geylang United coach

ESPNSTAR.com's Mid-term Grade: 3/10



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