Monday, January 18, 2010


The fourth matchup of the Eagles’ pre-season saw them take on their semi-final conquest of last season’s Singapore Cup, Albirex Niigata(S) at the Jurong East Stadium.

After spending the past three days in a team-bonding camp away from the football pitch, this friendly game provided the boys in green another chance to have a good workout for the upcoming campaign.

Adrian Dhanaraj started his first pre-season game in defence alongside Rastislav Belicak and Siddiq Durimi, who like utility man, Syed Fadhil, has returned to the Eagles fold after a short stint at Home United.

Romanian signing Vasile Ghindaru held the fort in the middle while upfront saw main man Masrezwan Masturi partner the newly acquired Slovak forward, Peter Tomko.

And it was Tomko who had the first notable attempt at goal in the 15th minute when he swiveled past his marker and produced a stiff shot on the turn which warmed the gloves of the Albirex keeper.

Aside from that, the Eagles only managed to conjure up shots from distance as both Syed Thaha and Miroslav Latiak tried their luck at goal.

The Japanese proved that they are never easy opponent on their home turf, hitting the crossbar once and having a two decent penalty shouts turned down by the referee in the opening 45 minutes.

Perhaps being away from the field for the past few days had an effect on the team as play was scrappy for most part of the first period.

The second half threatened to follow suit till a series of substitutions saw the game open up more.

Coach Mike Wong took the chance once again to blood in youngsters as he would require his whole squad for the Eagles’ impending battle on three fronts.

Senior players like Walid Lounis, Shah Hirul and Hafiz Rahim were also given run outs as the changes ringed in.

In the 70th minute, Jonathan Xu, who had come on earlier for the injured Siddiq, wasted a glorious chance when he blasted against the post following a corner situation.

Two minutes later, a well-weighted pass saw Tomko raced through on goal only to be denied illegally inside the box. Up stepped Itimi Dickson but his weak effort denied the fans inside the stadium something to cheer for.

A third chance in quick succession for the Eagles arrived shortly, when off a freekick swung in by Itimi, the ball ricochet somehow into the path of Walid. But the Tunisian-born player wastefully toe-poked the ball off target from three metres out.

The game then stagnated towards the end that saw the match end goalless.

Coach Mike Wong post-match commented that though the bonding camp had done good for team spirit, there is more work that need to be done on the pitch and that he will be drilling his charges harder in the coming two weeks to prepare them well for the battles ahead.

The pre-season schedule next see the Eagles take on Woodlands Wellington on the 26th Jan (Saturday) at the Woodlands Stadium.

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