The Lion City Sailors Women – Invincibles of 2022 – picked up where they left off last year in their opening fixture of the 2023 Deloitte Women’s Premier League (WPL), securing a comfortable 3-0 win over Police SA at the Choa Chu Kang Stadium on Sunday evening (19 March).
Indeed, it took all of three minutes for the Sailors to get their season off the ground, with midfielder Madison Telmer breaking through the heart of the Police defence to break the deadlock with a crisp right foot shot.
Against Police SA’s deep, defensive block, however, the Sailors struggled to make any meaningful headway in the final third, and were often left frustrated in their quest to double their advantage.
It fell to last season’s WPL top scorer Izzati Rosni to find the answers for the Sailors, as the 23-year-old struck twice late in the game to secure all three points for the defending champions.
Sailors Women head coach Yeong Sheau Shyan admitted that, despite the early lead, her side had found it tough going at the start due to the “conservative” Police SA approach.
“I think we started out very well, we did exactly what we wanted to do,” Sheau Shyan said. “But we were not used to the ground, so it was a bit difficult for us to control the game. The pitch was also a bit slippery because of the rain earlier, so it was a bit hard for us to play in the middle, although we eventually got used to it.
“Police SA played conservatively and were more concerned with getting the ball out with long balls. Every time we get to the final third, if we didn’t score, the ball would be kicked all the way back. So, there was a lot of running up and down the pitch, and it required a huge physical effort from both teams.”
However, Izzati believes that the turning point came when the Sailors decided to focus on playing their usual game, rather than worrying about the threat that Police SA posed.
“At times, we followed the opponent’s pace of the game, when we should be setting the pace instead,” Izzati explained. “I think we came back stronger in the second half. We were quick on the counter, and instead of just dribbling and kicking the ball long, we focused on passing and quick movement to keep possession.”
Echoing Izzati’s sentiments, Madison added: “Our opponents are very experienced, so as the match progressed, they could understand how we were trying to play, and knew what to do to make it difficult for us.
“We had to work to mix things up, and it took us a while to get into the game. But towards the end, we got more comfortable with passing the ball around and getting it up front, and we finally got our second and third goals.”
The Sailors, whose unbeaten run in the WPL has now extended to 13 games, stretching all the way back to the start of the 2022 season, will next take on Still Aerion Women’s FC at Choa Chu Kang on Saturday, 25 March.