Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Jaguars Struck by Debutants

It was a game that Etoile FC just had to win. Facing a team that had conceded a whopping 17 goals, and being beaten by their fellow title challengers SAFFC (2-1), Tampines Rovers (4-1) and Home United (6-0), the pressure was on Arena to deliver the goods - in style.

Naming a line-up that included league debutant Jonathan Toto and Hicham Bouchemlal - who both managed to find themselves on the score-sheet - Arena opted to rest Aymard, Fougeroud and Raymond, perhaps in view of the fund-raising game against AFF Cup winners Malaysia on Saturday. Terry Pathanathan, meanwhile, gave custodian Ng Jia Fa his first ever senior start.

Etoile FC controlled and dominated the game throughout and a moment of brilliance by the Jaguars' custodian meant that Toto and Lefranc can only fire wide, as Jia Fa managed to cover his angle well. However, luck had it that the Jaguars would concede their first goal just when the Jaguars were starting to threaten the Stars as some feeble defence allowed Toto to break free from his marker before squaring the ball to his team-mate Hicham, who cannot miss from the sort of range and space given to him.

With a goal for Etoile, the team continued with their constant attacking in the Jaguars' half and Toto threatened to break his duck on his debut, if not for some solid defending by the Jaguars. As the game wore on, it looks as if Tanjong Pagar is gaining confidence from their display until Toto struck after half-time. Serge Souchon, so lively in the game, managed to keep a stray ball from Camara in play, and from the right, made a cross which Toto rose the highest to head the ball into the net.

More was to come as Talhi then decided that he needed a goal of his own and the right-back for the day attempted a cross, only for the crossbar to smack the ball into the net. This goal caught Ng Jia Fa, and the custodian was seemingly cursing his luck. However, a valiant display after the 3rd goal conceded meant that the Jaguars are able to hold their heads high after the 2nd minute of injury time was played out.

Nordine Talhi spoke to us after the game and admitted that the goal he scored was 'very very lucky' as the ball could had gone other ways on other days. Nordine was also visibly happy that his team-mates scored on their debuts. The Algerian-French would do well to finally make his mark in the Etoile team after being shadowed by his ex-team mates previously.

A good display, 3 points and a clean sheet after the game, and Etoile seemingly have found their footing in Singapore, while also bouncing back from the dubious loss against Gombak United. It now remain to see how the Stars would fare as they had yet to meet up with the local 'Big 3' yet. Jonathan Toto already look like a decent signing and if he carries on his form, who knows he may just be the next "Frederick Mendy", just more complete.

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