Football: Tanjong Pagar avenge loss, win FAS Women's Challenge Cup

Tanjong Pagar are FAS Women's Challenge Cup winners for the first time since 2012. Yuki Monden (standing fourth from right), last night's goalscorer, was also in that team.
Tanjong Pagar are FAS Women's Challenge Cup winners for the first time since 2012. Yuki Monden (standing fourth from right), last night's goalscorer, was also in that team. PHOTO: FOOTBALL ASSOCIATION OF SINGAPORE

When Tanjong Pagar United players learnt that they would be opening their FAS Women's Challenge Cup campaign against Warriors FC, the same opponents who beat them 6-0 in last year's final, they thought they were "unlucky".

But they won that match 1-0 and remained undefeated until the end, beating Still Aerion FC in the final yesterday by the same scoreline to lift their first title since 2012.

"When we met Warriors in (the first match) of our round-robin group, we thought we were unlucky because we were thrashed badly last year," said last night's scorer Yuki Monden.

"But we fought hard, trained hard and ran hard and did everything we could and we played as one team."

After a goal-less first half at the National Stadium, the 39-year-old forward pounced on a cross from midfielder Manami Fukuzawa in the 56th minute and tapped the ball into the net.

She said: "I was just concentrating on the ball... it was a good cross from Manami so I just needed to tap it in. It was a good pass all the way up from the defence and then it came to me, so I just needed to contribute to the team to score a goal."

Last night's win was especially sweet for Monden, as she was also part of the 2012 team who won the Cup. She played for another team from 2013 to 2017 as the Tanjong Pagar women's team had been disbanded, and rejoined the squad last year.

She said of coming back from last year's final loss: "We took every training session seriously and put in all our effort. Our attitudes (towards training) were the same, but it's the improvement each individual player has made that brought our team to the next level and helped us fight harder.

"The game plan was to go for the ball, never give up, be disciplined and believe in ourselves. We really wanted to win."

Still, Aerion captain Angeline Chua felt both teams initially struggled with the pitch as they are used to playing on smaller fields, but was proud of her teammates.

Noting that some of her teammates are as young as 15, the 30-year-old said: "We had a thin squad and didn't have our usual defenders, and I guess everyone was a bit nervous at the National Stadium. A lot of them are quite new.

"I'm really proud that we finished the game and it was good that everyone was running on the field - at no point did I see any of my team-mates give up."

She also vowed to do better next time: "We have to go back and train harder to improve on our lapses."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 19, 2019, with the headline 'Veteran's goal earns her team Challenge Cup'. Print Edition | Subscribe