With four wins out of four, a refreshed Lion City Sailors Women’s Team have enjoyed a dream start to the 2024 Deloitte Women’s Premier League (WPL) campaign. 

Despite their perfect start, the Sailors’ last match — a 3-0 win over Tanjong Pagar United on April 20 — highlighted that they still have room for improvement, particularly in the final third of the pitch.

After all, they initially struggled to break down a resolute Jaguars defence, and failed to score in the first half for the first time this season.

Sailors attacking midfielder Madison Telmer, however, revealed that the team has spent the last two weeks honing strategies to break down defensively-minded opponents.

“Our training since the Tanjong Pagar match has been focused on our approach against teams that adopt a low block,” shared the 19-year-old.

“We’ve been emphasising patience and ball circulation to draw our opponents in and create attacking opportunities. Our midfielders and strikers have also been coordinating their runs to exploit spaces effectively.”

Madison returned to the squad this season after departing Singapore in July last year to join Canada’s University of the Fraser Valley Women’s Soccer Team. Since rejoining the Sailors for the 2024 WPL season, the Canadian midfielder has scored twice and played a pivotal role in the team’s attacking efforts.

Having experienced a more physical playing environment in Canada, Madison attributes her improved fitness and strength to that experience, which she hopes will positively impact the team this season.

However, with experience comes added responsibility, and for Madison, this means focusing on her role in the team’s buildup play.

“I’m responsible for receiving the ball, turning and breaking lines. With feedback from coach Daniel Ong, I have been working on becoming more dangerous on the turn in training,” Madison explained.

“However, I have been fairly closely man-marked during a few games this season, which has changed my role a little. During games like this, my main role is to continue moving and creating space for my other teammates in the middle of the pitch.”

Madison will be heavily relied upon, particularly in the final third, as the Sailors take on bottom side Balestier Khalsa on Saturday (May 4) night at Choa Chu Kang Stadium. However, she will not be alone; fellow midfielder Qarissa Putri Ramadhani, who joined from Tanjong Pagar United during the off-season, has also been tasked with bolstering the Sailors’ attack.

And Qarissa underscored the importance of maintaining composure and making the right decisions in the final third, believing it to be pivotal in enhancing the team’s attacking efficiency.

“We not only need to find the confidence to shoot when we have the chance, but also must time our shots better. To avoid another goalless half, it’s crucial that we pass the ball with purpose and minimise turnovers,” the 15-year-old explained. 

“In training, we’ve been emphasising our buildup play… It’s important for us to understand each other’s strengths and preferences to determine the best plays for the team.

“In our next game against Balestier, we want to execute whatever we did in our training in order to get the win. We had a week off but we made sure to maintain fitness so that we can compete in the best shape possible.”