S.League Team of the Week

Albirex Niigata's hopes of a first Great Eastern-YEO's S.League title took another blow on Thursday after they slipped to a 3-2 home defeat to Hougang United.

Yamakoshi equalises from the spot!

By Gabriel Tan

Mamadou Diallo opened the scoring for the Cheetahs in the 29th minute, and although Yasuhiro Yamakoshi equalised for his side three minutes later, Sobrie Mazelan netted six minutes after the hour mark to put the visitors in front once more.

Canadian livewire Jordan Webb then added a third in the 76th minute and while Yamakoshi grabbed his second in injury-time, it proved too little too late as the White Swans fell to their second straight loss.

The result meant Albirex are now nine points behind leaders Tampines Rovers, who opened the week's action with a 3-0 win at Courts Young Lions on Wednesday, before being held to a 1-1 draw by Gombak United on Saturday.

DPMM are now second after cruising to a 3-0 victory at Tanjong Pagar United, while elsewhere on Sunday, Young Lions fell to their second loss in five days after losing 2-0 to Geylang United.

Harimau Muda were also winners this week after beating Woodlands Wellington 2-0 courtesy of a Thamil Arasu brace, while SAFFC and Balestier Khalsa played out a 0-0 draw at the Jalan Besar Stadium on Thursday.

Here, ESPNSTAR.com picks our best 11 players from this week's round of S.League matches.

GK: Zakariah Nerani (Balestier Khalsa)

For the second week running, Zakariah gets the nod between the sticks after keeping another clean sheet for the Tigers, despite against one of the league's most dangerous attacks in SAFFC.

Just as he had done against Albirex the week before, the 26-year-old claimed crosses with authority all evening long and produced a stunning save in the 72nd minute to keep out a thunderbolt from Shukor Zailan.

RB: Mahalli Jasuli (Harimau Muda)

Despite being a Malaysia international, Mahalli has had to take a backseat this season as plenty of the focus has been on Harimau's attacking talent, including the likes of Wan Zack Haikal, Ahmad Hazwan and Nazmi Faiz, who has since earned a move to Portuguese Liga side Beira-Mar.

Nonetheless, the Young Tigers skipper continues to do an excellent job for coach Ong Kim Swee on a weekly basis, and did an excellent job both in defence and attack on Saturday.

CB: Tales dos Santos (DPMM FC)

Dos Santos has been struggling for fitness recently due to a couple of niggling injuries, although you probably would not have been able to tell given the way he repelled everything the Jaguars throw at him on Sunday.

Engaged in an enthralling duel with Gilbert Bayonne all evening long, the Brazilian centre-back never once let his opponent out of his sight, and was unbeatable in the air.

CB: Goran Subara (Balestier Khalsa)

Without seven first-team players, including inspirational captain Paul Cunningham, on Thursday, many wondered how Balestier were going to cope against an SAFFC side boasting the likes of Mislav Karoglan, Fazrul Nawaz and Tatsuro Inui.

However, in his good mate's absence, Subara led the way with an indomitable display in the heart of the Tigers defence, and headed away every ball that was whipped into his penalty box.

As he has showed many times this season, the Australian also proved to be willing to put his body where it hurts, bravely blocking a ferocious shot from Shukor in the 61st minute.

LB: Nurullah Hussein (Gombak United)

If Nurullah continues to improve at the rate he is currently developing at, it is only a matter of time before Singapore coach Radojko Avramovic hands him his first cap.

The teenager displayed maturity beyond his years against the Stags on Saturday and was undaunted at the prospect of coming up against one of the league's hardest runners in Imran Sahib, matching him all the way.

Nurullah was also always ready to support Mustaqim Manzur in attack, and whipped in a couple of good balls that would have proved dangerous had his strikers showed more initiative.

RM: Shamsurin Rahman (Woodlands Wellington)

Despite being on the losing end, Shamsurin was one of the few Woodlands players who could walk off the pitch with his head held high on Saturday.

The former Balestier man was the main catalyst in the attacking third for his side, and played a couple of excellent balls that led to shooting chances for Moon Soon-ho.

The 25-year-old regularly found space down the flanks and was the one man that gave the Harimau players something to worry about.

CM: Ahmad Latiff (Tampines Rovers)

With Tampines playing two games last week, there was always going to be plenty of opportunities for the Stags to impress, but one player that really stood out was Latiff.

Against Young Lions on Wednesday, the ex-Singapore international ran the show in the middle of the park and grabbed his side's third with a terrific strike from the edge of the area that flew past the despairing dive of Neezam Aziz.

Three days later against Gombak, he was once again at his creative best, laying on an assist for Sead Hadzibulic's 21st-minute opener with a visionary 40-yard ball that landed straight on his team-mate's head.

Unfortunately for Latiff, fatigue hit Tampines as they were unable to record a second win in four days.

CM: Ivan Jerkovic (DPMM FC)

Jerkovic has been one of the main reasons why DPMM are currently second on the table after an impressive season so far, and he produced another influential display against the Jaguars on Sunday.

Having caused plenty of havoc in the opposition box with his dangerous deliveries from set-pieces, the Croatian midfielder grabbed his side's second in the 80th minute when he latched onto a neat pass from Patrick da Silva and slotted past Shamsudin Hashim.

 Two minutes later, he doubled his tally when he once again found space inside the Tanjong Pagar box, and clinically volleyed home a cross from Basiru Osman to wrap up the three points for his side.

LM: Jozef Kaplan (Geylang United)

The Eagles picked up only their third win in the league at the weekend after seeing off Young Lions at the Bedok Stadium, and Kaplan proved why he was named as the Most Valuable Player in the Singapore League Cup with another standout performance.

The Slovak was a constant outlet for his side in the attacking third as he held the ball up well and kept the visitors on the back foot with a number of penetrating runs, and grabbed the vital second goal late on when he forced his way into the box before drilling an effort past Syazwan Buhari.

ST: Thamil Arasu (Harimau Muda)

Thamil may not have seen too much of the ball in Saturday's triumph over the Rams, but he deserves plenty of credit for doing what he was meant to do - put the ball into the back of the net.

With Harimau struggling to find a way past the resilient Woodlands backline, the Banting native grabbed the crucial opener in the 69th minute when he met a Wan Zack Haikal cross and planted a header past Ahmadulhaq Che Omar, before wrapping things up two minutes from time when he swept home his second from close range.

ST: Aleksandar Duric (Tampines Rovers)

Despite now being 42, Duric continues to defy logic with his goalscoring displays in the S.League.

On Wednesday, the Singapore international opened the scoring against Young Lions in the sixth minute when he smashed home from close range after latching onto a lovely flicked pass by Hadzibulic.

There appeared to be no apparent danger nine minutes later when a pass from Latiff missed its target and landed in the opposition box, but from nowhere, Duric muscled his way past a stunned Emmeric Ong and slotted past Neezam to put his side two goals to the goal.

Duric was also serviceable against the Bulls on Saturday, although he didn't have too many clear-cut chances to have the sort of impact he does for Tampines on a regular basis.

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