After a dominant first half of the Deloitte Women’s Premier League (WPL) season with eight wins and a draw, the Lion City Sailors Women’s will be looking to continue their impressive form when Round 2 kicks off against Police Sports Association (SA) on Sunday (13 Aug) night at the Choa Chu Kang Stadium.
Yeong Sheau Shyan’s charges are now in pole position in the 10-team WPL table with 25 points from nine games, four more than second-placed Hougang United and six ahead of third-placed Albirex Niigata (S).
Despite the commanding start and gap in points tally, the Sailors Women are not taking things lightly, instead going out to secure yet another three points against Police to set the tone for the remainder of the season.
“It is very important to start positively because anything could happen in the second round. Despite the fact that we are at the top of the table, we need to have a strong and positive mindset,” said Khairunnisa Khairol Anwar, who has shown versatility this season, already featuring at both right-back and right midfield.
“If we’re complacent, teams can easily take points off us. We have to keep winning to remain top and keep the momentum going.”
Sunday’s opponent, Police, have had an encouraging first season in the WPL – after being promoted from the second-tier Women’s National League (WNL) – they have amassed 18 points from nine outings and are just three points off second spot.
A stout performance to hold title-chasing Hougang to a 0-0 draw last weekend not only showcased their defensive strength, but has also lifted their confidence before facing a Sailors side that has scored a league-leading tally of 35 goals – nine more than any side.
“Police is not a team to disregard lightly as they have a lot of experienced players,especially in their backline. Sitianiwati Rosielin is one of their key players and she is very good at distributing the ball. Furthermore, the team also has other players with good technical skills to trouble our defence,” said a serious Nisa.
“We cannot take them lightly at all.”
The Sailors have taken the approach to embrace a more youthful composition amongst the squad and give playing opportunities to rising teenagers – till date, a total of seven Under-16 girls have made WPL debuts for the team after being promoted from the club’s Girls’ Academy.
Nisa, once a junior player in the team, is now wholeheartedly embracing her more senior role. She is enjoying providing guidance to the younger ones and actively helping their seamless integration into the team.
“I try to help the younger players by giving them feedback or when they have questions about our game. And as much as possible, I try to encourage them because the level of intensity is different in the WPL compared to the WNL.
“Afterall, I’ve been in their position before so I know how a little bit of help and encouragement goes a long way in helping them adjust to playing at a higher level,” said the 20-year-old, who has made nine appearances for the Singapore national women’s team.
Sailors’ latest debutant, Cara Chang, holds a deep admiration for the senior players like Nisa who have reached out with a helping hand.
“Playing with the senior players has helped me a lot: there is a lot I am learning from them technically, tactically and physically. I really admire their mentality and composure, and they constantly motivate me by encouraging and supporting me both on and off the field.
“This helped me easily transition into the team and feel part of the Sailors’ family,” said the 14-year-old, who has made two WPL appearances so far and made two assists since being registered in the WPL mid-season transfer window.
“Nisa in particular has helped me a lot because we play in the same position and she helps me whenever I’m unsure about something.”
Cara also echoed Nisa’s sentiments, emphasising the significance of commencing the second round with a victorious start.
“I think starting this round with a strong win is very important because the gap at the top of the table between us and Albirex is quite tight. Every single game matters and winning will help us show that we are ready to compete for the title,” said the young winger, who is also part of the Singapore Under-16 women’s team.
“We’ve learnt a lot from the first round and we hope to implement what we’ve been working on in training sessions in our game this Sunday. It will also serve as a confidence booster and help us keep our momentum going for the rest of the season.”