Sunday, March 6, 2011

Chase Away the Monday Blues and Make It a "Star" Monday

Etoile FC will open their account at Queenstown Stadium in the 2011 S-League season with a clash against Hougang United FC (formerly known as Sengkang Punggol FC) on Monday evening, 7 March 2011. Having been one of the more "problem" teams for the Stars last season under their old name, the Stars would look to getting a positive result, especially after they had lost to a highly debatable goal by Ruhaizad Ismail (See Match Report).

Hougang United maybe newly formed, but they are still holding on to many players from the Dolphins, with the more notable ones being one-time Player of the Month, Canadian winger Jordan Webb, Mamadou Diallo and Ratna Suffian, not forgetting their inspirational coach, Aide Iskandar. The Cheetahs had a good start beating 10-man Woodlands Wellington by a solitary goal, before conceding 5 goals a game against title challengers in Tampines Rovers (5-2) and Home United (5-0).
After 3 games played already in the league, Etoile FC's record currently stands at 1 win,1 draw and 1 loss, scoring 2 and conceding 1 in the process. While goals had been hard to come by in recent times for the Stars, it can also be said to any of their opponents. Ask Geylang (scoring 2 goals each against SAFFC and Young Lions) and Balestier Khalsa, and even Gombak United, and you will know that to beat Trilles, you have to be either lucky, or your goal got to be controversial.

Head to Head
Sengkang Punggol gave Etoile FC a taste of true grit local football and were seconds away from inflicting a defeat to the Stars when Matthias Verschave popped up late in the 94th minute to secure a point - which proved to be the decisive one having won the league by a point come season end. However, the Dolphins were unable to celebrate any more goals against the Stars as each time the two teams meet, the score ends 1-0 in favour of the Stars, including a March 2010 clash in the League Cup.

Changes to the Team
While Etoile FC made substantial changes to its playing staff and non-playing one alike, Hougang FC completely overhaul its image, but maintaining a good crux of players from its inception in the 2010 edition as Sengkang Punggol FC. Gone is Patrick Vallee, Frederic Mendy, Matthias Verschave and many others but in comes better players to fill the void like Stan Fougeroud, Kevin Lefranc, Theo Raymond and many others, including the inclusion of experienced Italian coach Guglielmo Arena.

Key Player (Etoile FC) - Maxime Belouet
This free kick taker of the Stars proved his worth to the team after scoring from on his S-League debut, curling a free kick past everyone, including Yazid Yasin in a match which his new team eventually went on to win 2-0. Maxime, who had previously played for Orléans, had started to garner a reputation as a deadly set piece taker. Give him a bit more room, and he will drill the ball right into the net. Maxime brings to the team composure and flair, and if the defence is a bit more tighter, be sure to see the Orléans-born midfielder being the 'creative spark' for the team.

Key Player (Hougang United FC) - Fadhil Salim
Last season, when this writer was chatting with then-Etoile FC leftback Daniel N'na, he singled out Fadhil Salim as the keeper that the team find it hard to beat. Frederick Mendy echoes this statement in a seperate chat and thus, the Etoile players would do good to try beating this guy and making him pick out the ball from inside his net. Whilst Fadhil may be slightly low in morale after conceding 10 goals in 2 games, he may wish to seek solice by trying to keep a clean sheet in this encounter. Conceding 5 goals to Etoile FC last season in 4 games, if Ratna Suffian and Kobayashi plays to their normal standard, then this guy - Fadhil Salim, may just inflict Etoile's 3rd game without scoring in a row.

While many will write off the chances of Hougang United for this encounter after 2 woeful outings, it must be said that Aide Iskandar had never had 3 bad games in a row. The Stars are still finding their feet - slowly but steadily - in Singapore with the major changes made, Anthony Moulin, Serge Souchon and players who are here for 1 season already would have many things to tell their new team mates about Hougang United and some players like Mamadou Diallo, Jordan Webb and Noor Ali. Talhi and gang would have to watch out for Delgado, freekicks by Duncan Elias (who possessed a wicked left foot) and speedy winger Fazli Jaffar, should they want to claim all 3 points in this encounter.

Our Pick: Etoile FC 3 Hougang United FC 1

A Note to ALL Etoile FC Ultras:
U4U fan club will be travelling to the Queenstown Stadium on Monday evening to support their team, Hougang United FC. All Ultras, be loud and cheer for your team as both sets of fans banter with each other throughout the 90 minutes, purely for entertainment purpose, with the aim in giving all fans a 100% S-League experience. After 90 minutes, take away the rivalry, make new friends and talk football. May the best fanclub and team win tomorrow - on or off the field - editor of

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