The Lion City Sailors are stepping into gear in the Singapore Premier League (SPL), following up on their 7-1 victory over Balestier Khalsa on Nov 7, with another high-scoring 6-1 win over Tanjong Pagar United on Friday (Nov 13).
The Sailors looked like they were scoring for fun at the Bishan Stadium, racing to a 4-0 half-time lead with a brace from Stipe Plazibat and a goal each from Kaishu Yamazaki and Song Ui-Young.
In a tighter second half, Tanjong Pagar’s Suhairi Sabri scored with a well-taken shot in the 52nd minute, but any hope of a comeback was quashed by substitute Adam Swandi, who found the back of the net twice in the final seven minutes of the match.
Aurelio Vidmar’s charges are now third in the eight-team standings on 14 points, just three adrift of both Albirex Niigata and Tampines Rovers.
The Sailors are playing flowing football and scoring with exhilarating regularity, and while both performances and results have brought a smile to his face, Aurelio is taking nothing for granted.
“The team is progressing well – there’s a vast difference from where we first started to where we are now, and everyone’s understanding one another better. I was really pleased with the first half performance: we played some great football, and scored some really nice goals,” said the former Australia captain, who also noted his team’s ability to switch gears.
He said: “We had to be a bit more patient and accelerate our tempo when we got closer to the front third of the pitch. But at 4-0 up at half-time, sometimes you take your foot off the pedal and that’s probably what we did. In saying that, we reacted much better in the second part of the second half.
“But I think we still have a lot of improvement to make, and in time we’ll get there.”
Sailors’ skipper Izzdin Shafiq was pleased with how well the team has progressed over the course of this season – something that he puts down to work on the training ground.
“We always try to improve after every game, and the team looks more positive now than we were at the restart of the league,” said the midfielder. “There really isn’t any secret behind all that. If there is a secret, it’s the hard work, discipline and commitment from every single Sailor.”
Izzdin is under no illusions as to the size of the task ahead of his team, if they are to push for the SPL title, but he is confident in the ability of his team to step up to the plate.
“There will be tough matches ahead of us, but if we want to win the title, we must put in similar performances and show the same fighting spirit,” said Izzdin.
The Sailors’ ruthless efficiency in front of goal and patience in the face of a resolute Tanjong Pagar defence augurs well for their next fixture – against Hougang United on Tuesday (17 Nov) at the Hougang Stadium.
The last time these two teams locked horns, the Sailors struggled to break down a compact Cheetahs’ side in a 1-1 draw at the Bishan Stadium in early November.
“We know what a tough nut they were to break down, and this match will potentially be very similar to that (1-1 draw) – it’s going to be a challenge for us,” said Aurelio, who was acutely aware that Hougang are not the only obstacle his team needs to overcome.
“We’ve got a game every three and a half days, so there’s not a lot of training we can do. We must focus on recovery and getting the players fresh for upcoming games,” said Aurelio.
“It’s freshness, freshness, freshness.”