Nothing went right for the Tampines Rovers’ women’s team in their final National Women’s League match of the season at Queenstown Stadium last Saturday night.
Playing on a pitch that had just been used by National Football League Division Two sides, Starlight soccerites FC and Warwick Knights FC, the unfortunate women’s team players found the badly-cut-up and traditionally unevenly-surfaced pitch at Queenstown as much of a handful as their accomplished Winchester Isla opponents.
Going behind to an early penalty, which in hindsight might have been avoided, due to a somewhat rushed challenge, the Tampines team showed plenty of dash up front, but had few answers to the speed on the flanks of their opponents’ 38 year old winger, Elly Yanti or their dynamic 18 year old captain, Raudah Kamis, who’d converted the 22nd minute penalty-kick. The same player went on to score four additional goals in Winchester’s resounding 7-1 win.
But far more lay behind that scoreline than the extraordinary ability of a few key opposition players.
A week-off, thanks to a bye, didn’t help, but the loss of key defender, Nurmaisharah Abu Bakar, to a head injury, that required an ambulance team to convey her to NUH, was just the start of a horror period for an increasingly beleaguered Tampines side.
Skipper, Naridah Farid, had to miss the second-half after picking up an injury during the first period, while keeper, Aisha Kasmawi, who’d suffered a rib-injury earlier and gamely returned for the second-half, exacerbated her condition only twelve minutes after the restart and also had to be taken to the same hospital.
Both players were to remain there overnight for observation.
Winchester, meanwhile, had raced to a 3-0 lead by the 36th minute, which was then reduced soon after the resumption by Syafiqah Mutalib, who had posed a few problems for the Winchester defenders, only to injure herself well before the end. Her misfortune, as well as another injury to attacking partner, Shahidah Sidek, left the ranks threadbare up front during the latter part of the game.
By the hour mark, however, with Tampines having already made their final substitution those two further injuries sustained on the poor pitch meant that the heroic team had to finish the match with only nine players.
Small wonder, then, that Winchester put away four more goals over the concluding 30 minutes to run away with the game.
Winchester, though, played the game with great sportsmanship and referee Mahendran only once needed to reach for his yellow card at any stage of the match.
It was an unhappy way for the Tampines’ women to end their eight-game National League season, but coach Ratna Sufian vowed to bring the team back stronger and fitter for the Challenge Cup later in the season.
“We’ll spend more time preparing for the Challenge Cup,” he revealed.
“And I’ll be strengthening the team in some key areas,” he went on.
“I already have several players in mind, who expressed an interest too late for inclusion in the team when the season started.