The Lion City Sailors Women’s team acquitted themselves well against Kaya FC-Iloilo in their Women’s Football Championship (WFC) 2022 opener on Monday (17 October) night at the German European School Singapore, despite falling 3-1 to the Philippines side.  

The Sailors women trailed two-nil at half time courtesy of a quick-fire brace from Philippines international Dionesa Tolentin, but showed great spirit in the second period and halved the deficit through a 30-yard screamer from Canadian midfielder Madison Telmer in the 74th minute. 

The 2022 Deloitte Women’s Premier League (WPL) champions were relentless in the dying stages and went agonisingly close to grabbing an equaliser through substitute Nur Syazwani Ruzi, before Rochelle Mendano netted a long-range strike on the stroke of full time to seal the win for the visitors. 

Sailors Women Head Coach Yeong Sheau Shyan was pleased with how her charges adapted to the higher intensity of play and showed signs of getting to grips with regional club football. 

“In the first half, we were admittedly off-pace because we’re not used to playing that quickly and playing against such technically adept players. But in the second half, the girls settled down and got better as time went on,” said the 44-year-old.

“I was pleasantly surprised by how good their fitness is – they were still chasing and running until the final minute. Overall, it’s a great test. We definitely need matches like these to progress as a team and properly challenge our players to take the next step.” 

Goalscorer Madison sang from the same hymn book and is already looking forward to the next two WFC matches. 

“Everyone in the team was fighting so hard for each other in the second half and we showed that we can match the standards of a team that is one of the better ones in this region,” commented the 18-year-old. 

“It was an incredible feeling to score – I couldn’t believe it at first but was exhilarated when the ball hit the back of the net. Overall, we enjoyed the game and we just can’t wait to get out there again for the next two games.”

The game against Kaya also saw two Under-16 players featuring for the Sailors. Ardhra Arul Ganeswaren filled in at left back for rested skipper Ernie Sulastri and lasted 70-odd minutes before being subbed off, while Cara Chang came on as a second-half substitute and showed promise on the left wing. 

Sheau Shyan lavished praise on the duo. 

“It’s not easy for them to play in this game. Ardhra had some difficulties at the start, but settled down and showed that she is comfortable enough to keep possession of the ball on a few occasions. 

“Cara did very well to keep up with the pace and intensity towards the end. We definitely have some good young players coming up,” she said. 

The Sailors will next play Indonesia’s Persib Bandung Putri on Wednesday (19 October), before ending their WFC campaign against Thailand’s Phranakorn FC on Friday (21 October).