Friday, July 22, 2011

Valiant Stars Knocked Out via Russian Roulette

The Stars ended their defense of the League Cup they won in 2010 at the first hurdle, after going down to a depleted Home United side 6-5 on penalties (1-1 after extra time). In truth, the Stars could have sealed up the game in the 1st half, confirmed the victory in the 2nd half and killed the whole Protectors team in extra time. But unlike the last encounter, Home United honcho, Paul Lee, got his tactics right - despite being without 5 first-choice players.

Starting fringe players like Nor Azli Yusoff and Farizal Basri, the Protectors were still able to call on their 4 foreigners and a host of players that could be in the Starting XI of any S-League team. The Stars were still missing Franklin Anzite.

The first of incident came in the 5th minute of play when Aly Doumbouya was fouled in the box by Valery Hiek. The resulting penalty that came was converted coolly by Maxime Belouet. However, things took for a worst when a rare attack by the Protectors saw Andrea Damiani shoving Firdaus Idros and the referee had no choice but to award a penalty to the away team. Zulfadli Zainal Abidin converted the penalty and it was game on.

The game was touch and go from there, and with the inclusion of Mendy in the second half, the ex-Stars striker was limited to falling on the field and shooting aimlessly at goal, being guarded by Nordine Talhi and Anthony Aymard throughout his time on the field.

During extra-time, the Stars created a host of chances but were unable to avoid the dreaded Russian Roulette. After seeing their first penalties missed, both teams went on to convert the next 4 penalties before heading into sudden-death mode. Toto fluffed his penalty shot when he passed the ball to Fajar Sarib with arguably, one of the worst kicks in the game. Fortunately, Lee Sang Ha smacked his attempt onto the right side post and the Stars survived. When Durand misses, Trilles was on hand to pump Sufian Anuar's shot. But the Stars finally conceded defeat when Trilles missed his own spotkick and Firdaus Idros converted for cheers amongst the players and fans.

One thing that was observed was how the same people who jeered and taunt Mendy just 1 season ago, and often showing signs of rejection to Etoile FC and its players, were seen clamoring around the lanky forward. Mendy would not had picture this scene in his head a 7 months ago.

As the dust settled, the Ultras were on hand to encourage the players and congratulating them for good effort shown. Well, Etoile FC may not be trophy-less though this season, with the RHB Singapore Cup progress looking strong.

Allez Etoile, Forza Ultras!

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