Three games, three wins, 14 goals scored, and just a solitary goal conceded.
It has been close to a perfect start to the season for the Lion City Sailors’ Women team, who find themselves top of the Deloitte Women’s Premier League (WPL) following their 4-0 win over Still Aerion FC on Saturday night (16 July).
Laser-focused on their target of winning the WPL this season, the Sailors have thus far gone about their business in ruthless fashion, and have arguably established themselves as the team to beat in the league.
However, head coach Yeong Sheau Shyan is keenly aware that the season is still young, and that her team has not achieved anything yet. As such, she was quick to emphasise the need for them to focus on their long-term targets, and to focus on the process rather than the results.
“People may see us as the favourites because we carry the Sailors name, but they probably don’t know how hard the team is working to try and get to where we want to be,” said Sheau Shyan.
“I just hope the fans and football lovers will judge us by the football we are trying to play, and not just the result at the end.
“If we can keep our squad together and stay focused on our long-term targets, I’m confident we should be able to reach our goals.”
Indeed, despite the comprehensive margin of victory over Aerion, Sheau Shyan admitted that the scoreline did not fully reflect how challenging the match actually was.
The first-half, in particular, proved to be a cagey affair, although in-form midfielder Nur Izzati Rosni opened the scoring for the Sailors in the 29th minute.
But it was only after the break, when forward Danelle Tan struck in the 47th minute, that the Sailors really began to take control of the game.
Both Izzati and Danelle then scored in quick succession in the 60th and 61st minute respectively to seal all three points for the Sailors.
Reflecting on the victory, Sheau Shyan said: “It was a very tight match in the first half. Aerion pressed us well and denied us space and time to play our usual style. We came back in the second half with some tactical changes and got the goals early.
“That helped with our confidence, and we were then able to put into play the things that we’ve been working on. Overall, I was very pleased that the team stuck to our game plan and met our training objectives.”
But there remain issues that require improvement.
“We are not defending as a team the way we want to. That’s what we will have to improve before the next fixture,” she said.
Sheau Shyan’s insistence on continuous improvement stems from her belief that the second round of WPL fixtures will likely pose new challenges for the Sailors women, with the rest of the teams set to bolster their squads.
“The transfer window will open soon, and some clubs will add to their squad. Albirex Niigata (S), for example, have already done so,” explained Sheau Shyan, pointing to the White Swans’ signing of former Japan international Kana Kitahara.
“It will be different in the second round of fixtures, especially now that all the clubs are back training and playing regularly, so we have to improve and be ready.”