BOTN feature report
By Corinthian

    Singapore Cup 2010 - 3rd game
    7:30pm, Wednesday 26 May, 2010
    at Jalan Besar Stadium

    South Melbourne FC 2
    (Daniel Vasilevski 12', Joseph Youssef 38')
    Gombak United 1
    (Agu Casmir 28')

    (SM players salute the crowd - Photos courtesy of Ko Po Hui [ ])

    Visitors South Melbourne continued the Preliminary Round trend of upset results in the RHB Singapore Cup when they accounted for strong local side Gombak United in Wednesday night’s televised match at Jalan Besar Stadium, running out 2-1 winners, with all the goals coming in the first half.

    South Melbourne showed the benefit of self-belief and team discipline, allied to a meticulous study of the opposition ahead of the game by coach Vaughan Coveny, to nullify the threat of the Bulls, who were expected to run all over the Australian side in the second half, but never got warmed up enough to do so.

    Instead, South Melbourne kept their shape and refused to buckle in the unfamiliar heat and humidity, tiring only slightly before the end and only resorting to their bench in the final ten minutes or so.

    There was no inkling of what was to happen later when the game began with the Blues players looking uncertain on the artificial pitch and taking some time to weigh up its peculiarities.

    Although midfielder Kyle Joryeff dashed away in the ninth minute towards the opposing penalty area, after finding some space, the ball quickly ran away from him and the opportunity to create anything worthwhile fizzled out.

    Gombak were doing enough to suggest they would take control of the game early winning a couple of corners and free kicks with South Melbourne keeper Peter Zois clawing the ball away in the 11th minute after Park Kang Jin had sent over a tricky cross from the left corner flag.

    But an error by Park, the most industrious of midfielders for Gombak in all of their games, led to the visitors taking a surprise 12th minute lead. Park’s pass in the middle of the field was intercepted by Joryeff who, this time, controlled the ball a lot better as he made a beeline for the Gombak penalty area. He got to the 15 yard mark and then whipped over a cross to the far post where Joseph Youssef got in a glancing header that took the ball beyond the reach of the keeper and into the path of Daniel Vasilevski who finished adroitly from an awkward angle on the left.

    Even with that early goal South Melbourne still looked tentative and it came as no great surprise when Gombak drew level in the 28th. Singapore international striker, Agu Casmir, not long back from injury, found himself with his back to goal and just inside the South Melbourne area. His sharp turn on defender James Stefanou was followed by an impeccable curling left-footer that gave Zois no chance as the ball found the top left corner of the net. It was a class goal.

    After that, however, Gombak rarely threatened while South Melbourne progressivly adapted and adjusted to the unfamiliar conditions and surface, slowly but surely getting on top.

    They regained the lead in the 39th when a brilliant lob over the head of Gombak defender Obadin Aikhena by Vasilevski found Youssef running into an open space. The 23 year old then beat the advancing keeper with ease to make it 2-1 to the visitors.

    A succession of Gombak corners towards the end of the half proved fruitless and Souths maintained their lead right through to the finish.

    Second half chances came mostly for the Melbourne side, though neither keeper had much to do it has to be said.

    A last-gasp effort by Gombak captain and defender Bah Mamadoh at the keeper’s near post was repelled when Zois resolutely beat the stoppage-time shot away. Game over for Gombak!

    Gombak’s best chance might have been to run the visitors off their legs and hope extra time would find them out for stamina, but there were few signs of tiredness in the visiting ranks as both strikers only came off right at the end for fresh legs and Sam Torrens took over the right midfield duties from the hard running Joryeff.

    It was a poor Gombak performance as their coach Darren Stewart agreed at the end of the game. “I’m not blaming Park for giving the ball away for their first goal,” he said. “He probably has more touches on the ball than any other player in the team in every match and the law of averages says he will give the ball away from time to time. “We were not great today,” he went on. “We gave away two very poor goals, bits and pieces of what we did was OK, but the first half effort was not good. We did better in the second half, but did not take our chance,” he added.

    South Melbourne coach, Vaughan Coveny, was of course delighted. “I’m very happy, as it was a long way for us to come and our preparation was far from ideal. Just one training session here and dealing with the heat and humidity and the absence of two key players made it hard; but I am proud of the players who stood up and battled all the way to the end,” he declared. “The next round will throw up a new challenge for us (the Quarter Final matches are over two legs, one of which will be at this same Jalan Besar Stadium) and we are very grateful to the Singapore football authorities for allowing us to play in this competition.

    He, continued, “We had a game plan tonight and stuck to it well. We identified their stronger players and tried to shut them out. “We got off to a perfect start, let them back in again but then got a good goal back, which was pleasing. “This win will boost our morale enormously for our return to the Victorian Premier League competition which will be over before we come back and play the Quarter Finals. “We feel confident of making the top five in Victoria now after this effort tonight.

    South Melbourne will play the winner of the SAFFC v Bangkok Glass match which is the next Preliminary Round match to take place.

    Bangkok Glass were RHB Singapore Cup finalists last season and are seasoned performers in the Thailand League, while SAFFC are current S.League champions and past RHB Singapore Cup winners as well.

    If South Melbourne can get over that hurdle and more of the big names are knocked out by the Quarter Finals stage, they must stand a chance of becoming the first overseas team to annexe the trophy. Already, past winners, Home United, cup holders Geylang United, and now Gombak are out. League leaders Tampines Rovers and French newcomers Etoile FC might prove the testing material if they can clear this first hurdle over the next few days.

    A small band of travelling South Melbourne fans gathered after the game to celebrate the win and a larger group will probably return in September when the Quarter Finals are staggered over eight days from Monday 27th September until Monday 4th October, with teams probably playing their matches four days apart.


    Crowd: 2,039

    South Melbourne FC :
    Player listing:
    1. Peter Zois GK, 3. Rhodri Payne DF, 4. Steven O'Dor DF, 14. Ramazan Tavsancioglu (c) DF, 22. James Stefanou DF, 5. Daniel Vasilevski MF (23. Sebastian Petrovich +90'), 8. Carlo Recchia MF, 10. Joseph Youssef MF (16. Hamid Basma +84'), 18. Marinos Gasparis MF, 9. Gianni De Nittis FW, 25. Kyle Joryeff FW (12. Samuel Torrens +81')

    Substitutes not used: 21. Stefaan Sardelic RGK, 6. Eddie Cetkin DF

    Coach: Vaughan Coveny

    Yellow Cards: Nil
    Red Cards: Nil

    Gambok United :
    Player listing:
    1. Zaiful Nizam GK, 6. Bah Mamadou (C) DF, 7. Jeremy Chiang DF, 17. Obadin Aikhena DF, 4. Hamqaamal Shah MF, 5. Goran Subara MF, 8. Ruhaizad Ismail MF (12. Zulkiffli Hassim +58'), 14. Fabian Tan MF (11. Fazli Jaffar +58'), 9. Agu Casmir FW (20. Chang Jo Yoon +73'), 10. Fazrul Nawaz FW, 16 Park Kang Jin FW

    Substitutes not used: 19. Zakariah Nerani RGK, 41. Nurizam Azman DF, 15. Shafuan Sutohmoh MF, 18. Ridhwan Jamaludin MF

    Coach: Darren Stewart

    Yellow Cards: Park Kang Jin 56', Zulkiffli Hassim 76'
    Red Cards: Nil

    Referee: Abdul Malik 10/10
    Assistants: Asst Referee 1 - Lim Kok Heng, Asst Referee 2 - John Doo; Fourth Official: P Pandian; Match Commissioner: Said Nasir

    Pitch rating: 10/10 (synthetic)

    Game rating: 7/10

    Players to note: Gianni De Nittis, Marinos Gasparis, Daniel Vasilevski (SM); Bah Mamadoh, Agu Casmir, Park Kan Jin (Gombak)

    Match Report by Corinthian

    (Lineup before kickoff - Photos courtesy of Ko Po Hui [ ])

    (Just before first goal - Photos courtesy of Ko Po Hui [ ])

    (South Melbourne fans - Photos courtesy of Ko Po Hui [ ])

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