Written by: Phoon Jia Hui
Garena Young Lions notched their first point of the 2017 Great Eastern-Hyundai S.League season after holding Brunei DPMM to a goalless draw at the Jalan Besar Stadium on Saturday night.
It was an end-to-end game with chances aplenty, but the two teams were ultimately let down by their profligacy in front of goal as they shared the spoils in an exciting affair.
The hosts started the match brightly and could have opened the scoring after seven minutes but Muhaimin Suhaimi nodded narrowly wide off a Ryan Syaffiq cross.
Meanwhile, the Young Lions defence hardly allowed the DPMM attackers a sniff at goal and was marshalled well by the trio of captain Shahrin Saberin, Illyas Lee and Faizal Roslan - the latter two were making their first starts of the season.
Young Lions goalkeeper Hairul Syirhan was called into action for the first time on 18 minutes as he made an unorthodox save with his legs to keep out Hendra Azam’s fierce shot.
Muhaimin controlled Rusyaidi Salime’s cross with his chest but fired tamely at DPMM custodian Wardun Yussof from six yards out.
After cutting in from the left, Syaffiq’s effort whistled just over the bar just after the half-hour mark before Rosmin Kamis’ cross was nearly deflected into goal by the head of Azwan in the 33rd minute.
V Selvaraj’s charges should have gone ahead six minutes after the restart when Wardun flapped at Rusyaidi’s right-wing cross. The ball then fell kindly to left-back Syahrul Sazali who blasted over from close range.
Lee came to the rescue of the Young Lions in the 58th minute, as the defender raced back in time to clear off the line with a header after Azwan’s chip had beaten an onrushing Hairul.
Azwan came close again in the 66th minute when he powered a shot on goal which came off the bar after it took a deflection off the fingertips of Hairul.
A glut of goalscoring chances followed thereafter but none were able to find a way into the back of the net.
Young Lions substitute Haiqal Pashia capitalised on a defensive error to drag his shot wide in the 84th minute before an unmarked Azwan skied his effort at the far post off a corner two minutes later.
With just seconds remaining, Taufik Suparno could have become the hero for the Young Lions but the forward contrived to fire wide with only the keeper to beat.
The result made no difference to the league standings, as the Wasps remain in eighth with four points while the Young Lions are one spot below.
Brunei DPMM Head Coach Steve Kean: “The good thing for us today was that the result stopped a bad seqence although I’m disappointed we didn’t get the three points.”
“We shaded the game, especially in terms of chances. Azwan Ali had one (which came off the bar), Rosmin Kamis fired over while Rafael Ramazotti had two headers which were unlucky not to have gone in.
“But credit to the Young Lions, they were hard to break down with three centre-backs and two wing-backs who constantly pressed us.”
Garena Young Lions: Hairul Syirhan (GK), Shahrin Saberin (C), Ryan Syaffiq (Haiqal Pashia 83’), Syahrul Sazali (Dhukhilan Jeevamani 74’), Hami Syahin, Faizal Roslan, Ikhsan Fandi (Taufik Suparno 69’), Muhaimin Suhaimi, Rusyaidi Salime, Illyas Lee, Muhelmy Suhaimi
Brunei DPMM: Wardun Yussof (GK), Azwan Saleh, Azwan Ali Rahman, Hendra Azam (Nurikhwan Othman 60’), Billy Mehmet, Najib Tarif, Rosmin Kamis (C), Helmi Zambin, Rafael Ramazotti, Zeljko Savic, Yura Indera Putera