School sports

St Gabriel's overcome the odds

Spectra Secondary School's Muhd Zahin Hidayatullah taking a shot under the challenge of St Gabriel's defender Gideon Tai during the Schools National B Division boys' League Three football final at Our Tampines Hub yesterday. St Gabriel's won 2-0.
Spectra Secondary School's Muhd Zahin Hidayatullah taking a shot under the challenge of St Gabriel's defender Gideon Tai during the Schools National B Division boys' League Three football final at Our Tampines Hub yesterday. St Gabriel's won 2-0.ST PHOTO: CHONG JUN LIANG

They beat Spectra for League 3 title despite suspension, injuries and early sending-off

With a key defender suspended and their captain struggling with an injury, St Gabriel's Secondary School's football teacher-in-charge Laura Huang was hardly confident ahead of the Schools National B Division boys' League Three final against Spectra Secondary School yesterday.

To make things worse, St Gabriel's winger Joshua Joseph suffered a cut to his face in the 21st minute and his replacement Aryan Menon was sent off nine minutes later for arguing with the referee.

However, Spectra were also reduced to 10 men in the 37th minutes when Muhammad Ryan Tsaqif received his second yellow card.

St Gabriel's regained the initiative to score through centre-back Gideon Tai (40th minute) and striker Aiman Yazid (76th) for a 2-0 win at Our Tampines Hub.

Said Huang: "The result was definitely better than what I had expected.

"Our main defender was serving a suspension and our captain sustained an injury during the semi-finals so he was limping throughout this match.

"We didn't expect to come so far, but we just kept telling ourselves to try our best.

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    St Gabriel's Secondary centre-back Gideon Tai's goal in the final was his first for the school in four years.

"Even when the situation was not advantageous to us, we did not let it get to us.

"We fought on, we never thought about giving up."

The two red cards dominated the early proceedings before Gideon curled in a superb free kick to give his team the lead on the stroke of half-time.

Spectra went in search of an equaliser in the second half, but Aiman dashed their hopes of a comeback with the second goal.

Man of the match Gideon said: "I was so excited and happy after I scored because it was almost half-time and it was my first goal for the school in four years.

"Before the game, I told my teammates that I will work as hard as I can to get the goal so I'm very happy that I scored."

Despite the loss, Spectra coach Ashraf Ariffin was proud of his team's performance.

"We started off very well, but we didn't finish our chances and then when we lost a man, the boys lost a bit of focus," he said.

"After we conceded the goal late in the first half, it was quite hard to get back into the game in the second half.

"They did all that they could and gave their best and that is all that we can ask."

Yesterday's League Three final was the first of five finals in the boys' football tournament this year.

In the preliminary rounds, all schools are split into 16 groups with five to six schools per group.

The teams are then placed in five leagues - from League One to Five - based on the positions they finished in their groups.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 09, 2019, with the headline 'St Gabriel's overcome the odds'. Print Edition | Subscribe