Match Of The Week

Football: Brace by Jonathan Behe gives Warriors first win

Jonathan Behe sprints past Hougang United goalkeeper Khairulhin Khalid on his way to scoring his second goal yesterday in stoppage time. It was the first win in 11 Singapore Premier League matches this season for the nine-time champions.
Jonathan Behe sprints past Hougang United goalkeeper Khairulhin Khalid on his way to scoring his second goal yesterday in stoppage time. It was the first win in 11 Singapore Premier League matches this season for the nine-time champions.ST PHOTO: KHALID BABA

Frenchman's late flurry brings first coaching win for Grabovac; Aw cites lack of confidence

SINGAPORE PREMIER LEAGUE

Warriors FC 2

Hougang United 0

At the final whistle, Kento Fukuda clenched his fists, looked to the heavens and let out a primal roar into the night sky above Choa Chu Kang Stadium.

It was clear what the Warriors FC's 2-0 victory over Hougang United meant to their skipper.

The win was the first in 11 Singapore Premier League (SPL) matches this season for the nine-time champions, halting their worst-ever start to a season. The club's previous worst start to a season was only three games without a win, in 2012 and 2016.

Two late goals from French striker Jonathan Behe, in the 87th and 93rd minute, handed Warriors the three points.

Coach Mirko Grabovac looked relieved post-match, and said: "This win is important for the players.

"I was hoping tonight we would stop all our bad habits in previous games - give away a penalty, get a red card, score an own goal - and concentrate for the 90 minutes, and we did. It was not easy for them to play carrying so much pressure after not winning so many games."

Grabovac, who scored 135 goals for the Warriors from 1999 to 2003, when he won two league titles and one Singapore Cup, said it was not his team's best game this term.

Indeed, most of the game proved to be a war of attrition. Hougang coach Philippe Aw later noted both teams "set up not to lose" and focused on defensive organisation.

The 29-year-old Behe missed the only clear chance of the first half in the 33rd minute, when he somehow sent wide an effort from barely five metres, after a long throw-in had fallen kindly for him.

He had an even better opportunity to score in the 81st minute, after he was played through on goal by Sahil Suhaimi, but his one-on-one effort was saved by Hougang goalkeeper Khairulhin Khalid.

But Warriors were awarded a penalty after Shamil Sharif's volley struck 17-year-old Hougang defender Jordan Vestering on the arm.

Up stepped Behe to send Khairulhin the wrong way from the spot, and give his side the lead.

Then, in stoppage time, with Hougang pouring men forward, Behe dispossessed Khairulhin near the half-way line as the shot-stopper was getting ready to lump the ball forward. Behe raced past the goalkeeper, and rolled the ball into an empty net.

The result extended Hougang's own winless sequence, which now stretches to nine games.

Said Cheetahs' coach Aw: "We have played better games and lost.

"You can see we headed into tonight's game with eight games without a win, and there is a lack of confidence in the team.

"But there's no way we can give up. It took a team like Warriors 11 games to get their first win.

"We've gone nine now, so we have to aim for a win in the 10th. We can't just lie down and give up."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on June 03, 2018, with the headline 'Brace by Behe gives Warriors first win'. Print Edition | Subscribe