Chitrakar hails Young Lions discipline

Courts Young Lions coach Robin Chitrakar was happy with the resolute performance his team showed in their 1-0 win over Harimau Muda in the Great Eastern-YEO's S.League.

Hafiz keeping a close eye on his tricky opponent.

By Gabriel Tan

Young Lions took the lead in Thursday's clash at the Jalan Besar Stadium in the 29th minute when Jonathan Toto met a Sherif El-Masri cross with a powerful header that Izham Tarmizi failed to keep out despite getting a hand on.

However, Harimau came back strongly in the second half but were just unable to find a way past a resilient opposition backline, with Faritz Hameed, Sheikh Abdul Hadi, Sirina Camara and makeshift left-back Hafiz Abu Sujad all putting in impressive performances.

Speaking after the game, Chitrakar praised his charges for the determination they showed on Thursday, but believes they must now look to build on the result by consistently delivering similar performances.

"The boys definitely did well to get the three points," he said. "Credit definitely goes to them.

"We tried to keep [Harimau] as far away from the goal as possible. It was really a tough game - they were pouring towards our goal, especially towards the end.

"But the boys stayed composed and played as a unit, and we really contained them and restricted them to shots from far.

"We definitely have grown and are starting to play as a team, but we must maintain where we left off each game - that's really important. We can't play one good game and then leave it as that. The key is to build from here."

Chitrakar was also effusive in his praise of his captain Hafiz, who hardly looked out of place on the left of defence deputising for the unwell Al-Qaasimy Rahman, and completely nullified the threat of dangerous Harimau winger Syahrul Azwari.

"I thought he [Hafiz] did really well and he showed he has no problems playing in that position."

At times, the match threatened to turn ugly as both sides struggled to come to terms with some questionable decisions from referee Ahmad A'Qashah, including the sending off of Harimau coach Ong Kim Swee shortly before halftime.

Nonetheless, Chitrakar believes both teams were just hungry to pick up the maximum points.

"It was a fast-tempo game from both teams," he added. "They [Harimau] are definitely a good and quick side, but we matched them pace for pace and skill for skill.

"Both teams just wanted to win badly."

Harimau assistant coach Hassan Sazali Waras admitted the absence of several key players, including captain Mahalli Jasuli, Fadhli Shas and Gary Robbat, who had all been called up for international duty with Malaysia, ultimately took its toll.

"We had a very limited pool of players to pick from," he lamented. "We only arrived in Singapore with 15 players, due to three national call-ups.

"We tried to collect maximum points but anything can happen. The players all worked hard but sometimes you are just unable to get the result.

"Young Lions were very organised today [Thursday] and were proved tough to break down."

Harimau will be looking to get back to winning ways on Sunday although they face a tough test against high-flying Albirex Niigata, while Young Lions entertain a resurgent SAFFC at the Jalan Besar Stadium.

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