Thursday, February 24, 2011

Preview: 25 February 2011: Stars vs Tigers

The 1st S-League 'live' game of the 2011 season will once again feature Etoile FC, coming up against a Tigers that had came out of a credible 1-1 draw against title contenders Home United in their opening game of the season. Last season, Etoile FC was also featured in the 1st 'live' game of the 2010 season, and on that occasion, the Stars needed an 85th minute effort from the now-departed Flavien Michellini to beat fellow newboys, Beijing Guoan (S) FC, by a solitary goal.
Etoile FC started this season in the same fashion as the last as a Belouet freekick and a Kaabi effort saw them 2-0 winners at Bedok Stadium. The difference for Friday's encounter though, is that Etoile FC would have to deal with the artificial turf at the Jalan Besar Stadium, a ground which the players had played on and lost in the Charity Shield encounter.

However, the new boys at Etoile FC would do good to read the form guide and recall how the class of 2010 managed to keep 4 clean sheets in 4 encounters against the Tigers - with Mendy scoring in all 4 encounters. Whilst the first match between both sides was a hard fought 1-0 win for Etoile, taking advantage of a Joey Sim howler, the next 2 league encounters saw Etoile FC winning by 3 goals to the good, sandwiched by a 2-0 win in the League Cup. Thus, the burden would be on Captain Antonin to maintain the clean sheet streak against a Tiger that had caused many problems to teams that are touted as Championship contenders.

Player to Look Out For - Etoile FC
With playmaker Kevin Lefranc suspended for this clash after picking up a 2nd yellow card for deliberate handball on his debut, the creative spark would have to land on Stan Fougeroud. The Etoile number 10 had been labelled by Johan, Chairman of Etoile FC, as a 'player to look out for' this season and early glimpses of him - once in the Charity Shield and a cameo against Geylang United - suggest that Stan would be the crucial key to unlocking the stubborn defence marshalled by Paul Cunningham and Kim Young Woo at Balestier.

Player to Look Out For - Balestier Khalsa FC
The Tigers are renowned for their ability to produce good players through their youth ranks ala West Ham United and it is no secret that one their potent weapon for this season would be attacking midfielding K. Vikraman, who dons the No.14 red jersey for the Toa Payoh outfit. His entreprising run would create havoc for the newly formed defence of Talhi and Aymard and if the duo could contain him and stop Vikraman from supplying the ball to Vitor Borges or Kim Young Kwan, then half the battle of clean sheet would be won.

Justin or Moulin?
In the first game at Jalan Besar Stadium, Coach Arena started out with Justin deployed as a lone striker. Granted that the French teenager was up against a resolute defence trio of Crossiant, Park and Kaneko, it was a debut that Justin should put behind him. Being benched in the last game then would give him a good view of local football, as well as ample time to settle into the polarizing climate that he would had otherwise enjoyed in France.

2nd season forward Anthony Moulin would not be a stranger to the artificial turf at Jalan Besar. Last season, Moulin witnessed his team winning the League Cup on this very ground, then the S-League title and the bouncy nature of the turf would do little to perturbe his game. Add on to the fact that Moulin had a good game last time out, creating a goal in the process, and it may seemed that Moulin is a sure starter for this match.

Our Pick: We say, put the 2 players upfront and add on the creativity spark that Stan possessed to unsettle the Tigers quick. Last season, in the 3-0 win over the Tigers, ex-coach Patrick Vallee made used of the speed that Mendy had, combined with the vision and guile that Verschave possessed to open up the defence guarded by Cunningham and Hammond. Within 30 minutes, the Stars would find themselves 3-0 up and the Tigers seemingly resigned to the fate of losing that game.

The Tigers would be vulnerable at the right side of defence, and with players like Camara, Kaabi and Nlate patrolling the left flank of the Etoile's attacking route, it would cause problems to the Tigers. Cunningham would be expected to mark Justin (playing as a decoy) tightly, thus leaving gaps for Moulin to expose. It is also a well known fact that Tigers like to 'soak and attack', and thus, a flat back four employing the 'offside trap' would do wonders in making sure that Vitor Borges would be limited to far shots, whilst dangerman Vikraman would be limited to making runs on the pitch, with no real target to aim for.

Prediction: Etoile FC 2 Balestier Khalsa FC 0

Join the Ultras on 25 Febraury 2011 and cheer with us. Better still, get a season pass to watch Etoile FC's home game. More details at the booth set up outside the stadium on matchday.

In addition, Etoile FC is currently looking for a kitman. Should you know of anyone who is interested in this position, please email his resume to

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