Thursday, March 31, 2011

Selim Kaabi Revives Etoile FC with Last-gasp Goal

Facing a team that had not scored since the beginning of the S-League season 2011, facing a team looking to grab its first win, facing a team that is currently coached by an ex-management staff of Etoile FC in the form of R Balasubramanium, what do you do?

Ask Guglielmo Arena and he will probably had not asked for a better script than this: Give your opponents their first goal of the season, then as you see them smile, let your substitute grab an equaliser near to the closing stages, and thereafter, grab the winner right at the death. That was precisely what Etoile FC did on Thursday night, further strengthen the club's image of "Never Give Up" - irregardless of the situation.

Coach Arena gave Central Africa Republic defender his debut in the S-League, and starting the 4 newly minted S-League All Stars players in his first eleven. Serge Souchon continue to start after some impressive outing and Selim Kaabi, Anthony Aymard and Lefranc were given starting positions. The Rams, who were given credit for their 2-0 loss against Home United,were generally unchanged from the previous game, bar Nigel Vanu - who would go on to score a goal.

The first half started with Etoile dominating proceedings and getting 3 corners in less than 20 minutes, all of which were comfortably dealt with by ex-Balestier custodian Ang Bang Heng. However, the drama started to unfold in the second half when an Antonin Trilles mistake saw Nigel Vanu scoring the Rams' first goal for the season. The relief was clearly written on "Bala"'s face, defying the critics who said that his team would have to wait longer to break their duck.

Arena quickly change his gameplan and replaced Serge Souchon with Julien Durand as the team went in search for the equalizer. However, as time ticks down at the Woodlands Stadium, the Rams felt that they have already gain the Stars' blood and were edging closer to an unlikely first victory when this man, Maxime Belouet - once again - pops up to score the equaliser - in the 86th minute. The Rams now know that in order to salvage anything, they would have to defend stoutly in the last few minutes in the game.

Having already utilized all 3 substitutes though, Arena had to tweak his tactical plans abit and it finally paid divedends when this man, Selim Kaabi, pops up to score the winner right at the death. The celebrations were there for all to see, and how Etoile converted the 1 point to 3 would be a question that "Bala" would have to answer. Leow Thiam Ho called for full time thereafter, and Etoile celebrates a 4th successive victory.

It was certainly a game that Woodlands Wellington would have taken prior to the game's kick off, but to lose it at the dead, perhaps show that Etoile FC still have something within them. This victory also show that the team had probably, find their footing in Singapore, admist the hot and humid conditions they were subjected to, and probably send a signal to their next opponent, and title challengers, Tampines Rovers FC, that they are ready, and will not give up the Champions tag so easily.

Etoile FC clearly shows to the fans in this game, that they have the making of a Champions.

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