The anguish and tears on the faces of the Lion City Sailors Women team at the final whistle following their 2-1 loss to Geylang International in the Deloitte Women’s Premier League (WPL) last Sunday (23 June) said it all.

This was a foreign, unfamiliar experience – the pain of defeat was something that the Sailors Women had not felt before.

But all good things must eventually come to an end. And after 37 games, two years, and two WPL titles, the Sailors Women’s incredible unbeaten run – which began at their inception in 2022 – was finally over.

Understandably, this past week has been one of introspection and reflection for Daniel Ong’s youthful charges.

“We sat down as a team to discuss the game – Coach Daniel told us his point of view, and each of us also expressed how we felt,” revealed Sailors Women captain Umairah Hamdan. “We had honest conversations with one another, and this really helped the team internalise what happened last Sunday.”

As one of the more experienced members of the squad, Umairah acknowledges that she is relied upon to provide guidance and mentorship to the younger players this season – an especially important role during difficult times.

It is a responsibility that Umairah relishes, as she explained, “We’re an ambitious team that not just wants to win the WPL, but we also want to do well in the upcoming AFC Women’s Champions League.

“The pressure sometimes can be huge, and it does get to the younger players. So it’s our job as the senior players to reach out to them, provide support, and help them out in any way we can. We’re a close-knit group on and off the field, and that will help us in the important months ahead.”

Umairah also expressed her confidence in the Sailors Women not only bouncing back from the defeat to Geylang, but also growing from this painful experience.

She said, “It’s a good wake-up call. The girls now understand that we are not invincible. Each of us have to take ownership of our individual roles, as well as fine-tune our style of play together as a team to regain our winning formula.

“It wasn’t a bad thing to see how sad the younger girls were after the final whistle. It just shows how passionate and determined the team is to deliver results.

“Instead of being down, I can see the team having a lot of hunger to improve, and together, we’re going to fight and battle even harder so that we can be champions again by the end of the season.”

To that end, the Sailors Women have been working hard this past week on a number of attacking drills, while also ironing out certain defensive kinks that appeared in their previous game.

And they will be looking to get back to winning ways when they take on seventh-placed Tiong Bahru at Choa Chu Kang Stadium on Saturday (29 June) evening.

“We actually played according to our plan against Geylang, but we did not crack their defence often enough, and when we did, we did not finish our chances,” Umairah reflected. “As such, we’ve been working on our creativity and movement in the attacking third so that we can find new ways of scoring.”

The Sailors and Albirex Niigata (S) are currently tied at the top of the WPL standings with 21 points each, but the Sailors hold the edge due to a superior goal difference.