Harimau Muda pile misery on Young Lions

Courts Young Lions' miserable 2013 Great Eastern-YEO's S.League season continued on Thursday as they fell to a 2-1 defeat to ten-man Harimau Muda.

Syazwan gets fooled by Syafwan's attempt!
Gabriel Tan

By Gabriel Tan

Reporting from the Jalan Besar Stadium

Syazwan Tajudin got the Malaysian outfit off to a dream start at the Jalan Besar Stadium in the second minute when he scored with a long-range freekick, but their chances of victory were dealt a blow in the 38th minute when they had Ridzuan Abdunloh sent off.

However, just seconds after the restart, Hanif Dzahir fired home a spectacular 35-yard effort to double his side's tally, which proved enough for the three points even though their opponents managed to pull one back 17 minutes from time through an Afiq Yunos header.

The result also meant Young Lions are still looking for their first league win in 2013 after 18 matches, and they certainly got off to a terrible start on Thursday evening.

With less than two minutes on the clock, the visitors were awarded a freekick on the left which Syazwan whipped straight into the box. Syafwan Syahlan snuck in behind the opposition defence and although he failed to get a touch on it, he did enough to distract Syazwan Buhari, who could only watch on in despair as the ball rolled past him and into goal.

Stunned at going behind so early on, Young Lions immediately stepped up their energy levels in a bid to get back into the game and had their first opening in the ninth minute; Iqbal Hussain meeting Raihan Rahman's freekick at the far post and firing away a shot through a sea of bodies that was saved by Hafizul Hakim.

Nine minutes later, Afiq was next to threaten the opposition goal when he met Sherif El-Masri's corner at the near post with a deft touch, but the Malaysian goalkeeper was once again equal to the task and did enough to keep it out.

By now, the hosts were really starting to gain a foothold in the game and their prospects were given a timely boost eight minutes after the half-hour mark when Ridzuan shoved Al-Qaasimy Rahman after receiving a hefty challenge, and earned himself a straight red from referee Taqi Jahari.

And just before the break, the Young Lions came excruciatingly close to equalising when El-Masri chipped a lovely ball through to Sahil Suhaimi, who got away a deft left-footed shot that sailed inches wide of the far post.

Now firmly in the ascendancy, it looked as though the hosts would spend much of the second 45 banging on their opponents' door.

But all that changed just seconds after the restart when they found themselves further behind, after Hanif received possession 35 yards out and unleashed a blistering drive that smashed into the bar and hit Syazwan Buhari on the head before landing into the back of the net.

Now faced with a mountain to climb, Young Lions needed a goal quickly if they were to rescue anything from the game and Sahil came close once in the 52nd minute when he pounced on a poor clearance and let fly from 25 yards, only to see Hafizul keep his effort out with a fantastic flying save.

A minute later, another gilt-edged opportunity went begging when Raihan floated in the resultant corner and found Iqbal, who was left with a free header from eight yards out but could only send it over.

Still, the determined hosts continued to press and finally made it 2-1 in the 73rd minute when Afiq, having stayed up after a corner, reacted quickest when the ball was played back into the box and sent a looping header into the back of the net.

As the game entered its closing stages, Young Lions continued to push forward in a bid to salvage a share of the spoils but for all their pressure, they were just unable to carve out a clear-cut chance as Harimau Muda held on for a well-deserved three points.

Courts Young Lions: Syazwan Buhari, Al-Qaasimy Rahman, Raihan Rahman, Afiq Yunos, Hanafi Ghazali, M. Anumanthan, Nur Na'iim Ishak (Afiq Noor 50'), Iqbal Hussain (Stanely Ng 69'), Sahil Suhaimi, Nur Ridho (Fareez Farhan 32'), Sherif El-Masri.

Harimau Muda: Hafizul Hakim, Syawal Nordin (Syafiq Shalihin 82'), Syazwan Tajudin, Nashriq Yahya, Asri Mardzuki, Akhir Bahari (Yazid Zaini 90'), Hanif Dzahir, Iskandar Hanapiah, Faizat Ghazli, Ridzuan Abdunloh, Syafwan Syahlan (Akmal Ishak 66').

Image courtesy of Axrosstheline.com (BP Chua)



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