SINGAPORE - 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 doubters wrong, the St Andrew's Junior College (SAJC) team turned on the style to beat the same opponents 4-1 in the final on Friday (May 17) at the Jalan Besar Stadium to clinch their first A Division 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 knew they'll come even harder at us and we wanted to prove that we could beat them again and that it wasn't a fluke the first time.
"We knew that there would be opportunities for us if we put the ball behind their backline and let our strikers chase the ball, and it worked."
SAJC took the lead in the ninth minute when Naden Koh scored from Ahmad Yusuf Anis' deflected shot.
The equaliser came right before half-time when VJC's Haikel Zaini picked up a loose ball in the six-yard box and slotted home.
SAJC started the second half on the front foot and regained the lead after two minutes through an own goal by VJC's Adam Johan.
Ahmad then secured the title for SAJC with goals in the 52nd and 75th minute.
Crediting the win to a team effort, the 17-year-old said: "We were the underdogs, but we had the spirit to keep going. No matter who we faced, we just focused on ourselves.
"We wanted to show that 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."
Naden, who also scored the winner in their quarter-final win, added: "Every match, my target is to help my team, I don't care whether I score.
"As long as the team wins, I'm very happy. Coming into today's match, I told myself that we were going to win because I'm going to try my best to score, and it happened.
"We had something to prove to everybody and I'm glad we did it."
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."