National Team - Lionesses ● Mar 05, 2018
Putri Scores on Dream Debut as Singapore Beat Maldives
The Warriors FC midfielder, who turns 15 next week, struck the first goal in a 2-0 victory at the Singapore Sports Hub
SINGAPORE, 5 MARCH – Having only trained twice with the team before Monday night, Putri Nur Syaliza did not expect to be thrown into the deep end.
But the Warriors FC midfielder, who only turns 15 next week, had a dream debut to savour by scoring the opener as the Singapore Women’s National Team beat Maldives 2-0 at the Singapore Sports Hub.
Pouncing on a weak clearance from goalkeeper Abdul Razzaq Aishath in the 51st minute, Putri strode forward before lashing a shot that went in between the unfortunate custodian’s legs and into the net.
“It was lucky, I thought it didn’t go in” she chuckled after the game. “Then it went in and I was really shocked, it was my first goal ever (for Singapore), so I am really, really happy!”
She had also been shocked when called upon as a substitute in the 33rd minute by head coach K. Balagumaran, with the home side struggling to get going against the visitors.
But the Queensway Secondary 3 student nearly made an immediate impact. Within two minutes, she had guided Suria Priya’s cut-back just wide and then saw a fierce 20-yard strike deflected behind.
“Coach didn’t say anything (about playing me) before the game,” she recalled. “When he called my name, I felt really shocked because (it felt like) the game had just started.
“But I just told myself, ‘I can do this, I can be stronger than them’.”
Balagumaran noted: “I think it changed the game, she had a good game and made a difference and the team started to click.”
But the 53-year-old was not entirely satisfied with his team’s performance despite the victory.
“We always have difficulty starting well,” he said. “Even in the previous game against Guam (a 3-0 win), we took time to settle down.
“You can see they were rushing (their play)… I said, ‘stop it, we can play’ because all the way, I’ve been training with the philosophy of building up play. We did, but when we went to the attacking third our decision making was not good.”
Singapore Starting XI vs Maldives
A much-needed “push” during the half-time team-talk helped to turn things around and the Lionesses emerged a different team. Maldives barely crossed into the Singapore half as the home side mounted wave after wave of attacks, though they had to wait until the 87th minute to add to the score-line.
In a move that would have left Balagumaran purring in delight, Stephanie Dominguez smacked the ball into the bottom left corner from the edge of the area to finish off a four-pass move that started with an indirect free-kick near the halfway line.
It was Dominguez’s second goal in as many matches and rounded off a well-deserved win for Singapore, who are preparing for the ASEAN Football Federation (AFF) Women’s Championships in June.
Balagumaran hopes to play at least one international match per month until then as he remarked candidly: “The second half was much better we still have a lot of work to do if we want to play against our rivals like Thailand and Vietnam.”
Giving opportunities to the likes of Putri (Under-16 National Team), Nur Umairah Hamdan, Dorcas Chu and Nur Afiqah Omar (all U-19) is part of his plan in building a team for the future.
“They can gain experience and it’s good for the team,” he said. “Fatin (Aqillah) also did well on her debut – she came from nowhere and only started to play for a club (Tanjong Pagar United FC) this year.”
There seems to be a bright future for Putri, who was named the Football Association of Singapore’s Women’s Young Player of the Year last season in her debut campaign for Warriors.
“I started playing when I was four or five years old,” she smiled. “I just want to continue to be in the team and to keep playing for Singapore.”