Football: Defending champions Lion City Sailors secure opening WPL win over Police SA

SINGAPORE – The Lion City Sailors picked up from where they left off last season as they started their 2023 Deloitte Women’s Premier League (WPL) campaign with a comfortable 3-0 win over Police Sports Association on Sunday.

An early goal by Madison Telmer and two late efforts by Izzati Rosni helped the defending champions ease past the 2022 Women’s National League champions at Choa Chu Kang Stadium.

But the margin could have been wider, as the final touch eluded the Sailors on many occasions, with their attackers failing to convert many of their crosses.

Coach Yeong Sheau Shyan acknowledged that there is room for improvement in their finishing, but also noted that Police’s conservative style of play and physicality had posed a challenge.

“They were concerned with clearing the ball with long kicks and we had to restart our build up and attack every time we didn’t score,” said the 45-year-old. “There was a lot of running up and down, which made it difficult for both teams.”

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Telmer, 19, said the team did well in dominating the match as their opponents defended in numbers.

The final-year student at the German European School Singapore, who plays in midfield, said: “We’re definitely feeling a lot more comfortable passing the ball around and getting up front to attack.

“Our opponents are very experienced players and as the match progressed they were reading the game very well and understood how we were trying to play, so that made it a lot more difficult for us.”

Police SA declined to comment on the match.

The Sailors took just two minutes to open accounts through Telmer. Latching on to a loose ball outside the box, her first touch took her past a defender, and she drove through the gap in defence to bury the opener.

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But despite dominating throughout the half, the Sailors struggled to build on their lead, failing to connect with crosses due to their opponents’ compact defending in the box.

They rallied in the second half with their passing game and managed to find their attackers in the open. But they were still unable to double their lead, as several strikes from forward Miray Altun hit the side netting.

Respite finally arrived late in the second half when Izzati calmly converted a free kick, which was awarded after Police goalkeeper Nurmanissa Soria picked up the ball after releasing it for a restart in the 79th minute.

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Less than six minutes later, Izzati made it 3-0, sending the ball into the top-right corner of the net to seal the win.

Izzati, who was the top scorer last season, said: “I am very proud of the team. We came back strong in the second half and were quick in counter attacks instead of just dribbling and kicking long balls.

“We will take one game at a time and focus and give our best, and definitely the title defence will come,” said the 24-year-old forward.

In Sunday’s other match, Hougang United defeated Still Aerion 3-0.

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