SAJC clinch first football title in style

SAJC players rejoicing after beating VJC 4-1 for their school's first football title at the Jalan Besar Stadium yesterday. They had also beaten the defending champions 1-0 in a quarter-final round-robin match. ST PHOTO: JASON QUAH
SAJC players rejoicing after beating VJC 4-1 for their school's first football title at the Jalan Besar Stadium yesterday. They had also beaten the defending champions 1-0 in a quarter-final round-robin match. ST PHOTO: JASON QUAH

Their 1-0 quarter-final round-robin victory over defending champions Victoria Junior College (VJC) two weeks ago was supposed to be a high point in their Schools National A Division boys' football competition, but it was spoilt by naysayers calling the result a fluke.

Determined to prove the doubters wrong, the St Andrew's Junior College (SAJC) team turned on the style to beat the same opponents 4-1 in the final at the Jalan Besar Stadium yesterday to clinch their first football title.

In the quarter-final round, eight schools are split into two groups. The top two teams from each group advance to the semi-finals.

SAJC captain Jeremy Chia, 17, said it was key that they got their tactics spot on. He said: "We wanted to prove it wasn't a fluke the first time.

"We knew there would be opportunities if we put the ball behind their backline and let our strikers chase the ball, and it worked."

SAJC led in the ninth minute when Naden Koh scored from Ahmad Yusuf Anis' deflected shot.

The equaliser came right before half-time when Haikel Zaini picked up a loose ball in the six-yard box and slotted home.

SAJC regained the lead two minutes into the second half through an Adam Johan own goal.

Ahmad secured the title with goals in the 52nd and 75th minute.

The 17-year-old said: "We were the underdogs, but we wanted to show we're a team that's going to fight no matter who's on the pitch.

"At the end of the day, it's still 11 versus 11."

Despite the loss, VJC captain Jeremy Loke, 18, was proud of his teammates.

He said: "SAJC came out faster and sharper than us in the second half and, once they got their second goal, they never looked back.

"We gave our all and we played as a team today. From our quarter-final loss, we knew we had to raise our game and I'm confident to say that's what happened today."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 18, 2019, with the headline 'SAJC clinch first football title in style'. Print Edition | Subscribe