A youthful Lion City Sailors Women’s Team got their Deloitte Women’s Premier League (WPL) title defence off to a perfect start, as they emphatically trounced last season’s bottom side Tiong Bahru 5-0 at the Choa Chu Kang Stadium on Saturday (9 March) evening.

Led by new Head Coach Daniel Ong, the Sailors Women raced into a three-goal lead within the first half-hour, before adding another two in the second half to seal a comfortable win.

Debutants Raeka Ee (two) and Seri Nurinsyirah were amongst the goals, while Syazwani Ruzi and Canadian midfielder Madison Telmer also opened their accounts for the season.

While happy to get a first WPL victory under his charge, Daniel has urged his side to put up a better display ahead of tougher hurdles ahead.

“It was not a bad outing for us – we had six players making their WPL debuts today and it’s important for them to get a first taste of action at this level,” said the 35-year-old, who took over the reins from two-time WPL Coach of the Year Yeong Sheau Shyan in the off-season.

“In terms of the overall performance, I felt we could have done better in certain periods of the game, and we’ll need to work on consistently producing our attacking style of football over 90 minutes. These girls have the ability, and I know we can improve further as a team.”

Amongst the six WPL debutants were five teenagers from the Sailors’ Girls Academy. Winger Yuvika Suresh and defender Tyan Foong – both born in 2009 – started the game and acquitted themselves well, while Seri, Nadia Nuraffendi and Liyana Rickit came on as second-half substitutes.

It took only eight minutes for the new-look Sailors Women side to open the scoring. Having impressed while playing for Mattar Sailors in the Women’s National League last season, Raeka showed her predatory striking instincts as she reacted quickest to prod home Yuvika’s cross-shot from a yard out for her first goal for the club.

The lead was doubled just three minutes later through Madison, who hit a crisp low drive from range into the bottom corner.

Syazwani – who donned the armband in the absence of the injured Umairah Hamdan – then produced a moment of brilliance, as she fired a stunning shot from the edge of the area that looped over Tiong Bahru keeper Vanessa Tan to make it 3-0 after just 23 minutes.

Clearly delighted with her goal, the Sailors Women vice-captain said, “Many people say that’s my signature (move), where I score by lobbing the ball over the goalkeeper.”

The 23-year-old added, “At that moment, I was outside the box and I knew I had to take that shot. I took the chance and I’m glad it went in.”

Raeka – who made her debut for the Singapore Women’s National Team in December – would net her second of the night shortly after the hour mark with a calm finish, after fellow debutant Qarissa Putri Ramandhani teed her up with an inch-perfect through pass.

The rout was completed with four minutes to go. A cross from substitute and new signing Laura Gänser was deflected into the path of Seri, and the 15-year-old kept her cool to poke the loose ball past the goalkeeper.

The result puts the Sailors Women top of the WPL after Matchday One, ahead of Hougang United, who beat BG Tampines Rovers 4-1 in the other match played on Saturday.

Up next for the Sailors Women is a tantalising clash against title challengers Albirex Niigata (S) on March 24 at the Choa Chu Kang Stadium, and Syazwani acknowledged the reigning WPL champions still have work to do ahead of the big game.

“Our execution of the game and finishing could be better. Our communication with each other is also an aspect that needs to be improved as well,” said the 22-year-old.

“We’ll continue to work on these areas in training and I’m confident that this will translate into improved performances in time to come.”