As promised, here’s my attempt to explain why we won our first game of the season so comfortably against Geylang International, a team who regularly beat us in previous seasons. It is also an analysis of a possession-based 4-2-3-1 formation using two wingers and a lone striker.
GAME ONE: DPMM 3-1 Geylang
Below depicts the lead-up to our first goal. Geylang’s left centre back hoofed the ball clear, it was headed down by Rahman to Nasir who played a short pass to Latif to give the ball to South African/ Bruneian Motaung in ‘the hole’ who passed the ball to the feet of Jailson who beat the right centre back and rifled a goal in at the near post.
Geylang were playing a 4-4-2 which allowed Motaung to find space between the lines of defence and midfield which caused them lots of problems. Whether he’ll be as effective against teams with different formations we’ll wait and see.
Here you can see he’s left unmarked close to goal again and able to pass back to our deep lying playmaker Nasir who plays it out to our right winger, Lee.
After recognising the the freedom allotted to Motuang in this match I’m considering changing his instructions to take advantage of this. My first idea is to ask him to take more long shots and make more through balls (if possible), however, these instructions could potentially contradict each other.
IN DEFENCE we have a solid shape with a conservative four-man back line which seemed tough for Geylang to break.
Our centre midfield pairing aren’t the best passers so we probably won’t have Barca-like possession stats every game but, watching the game again, we keep the ball well and mainly tend to lose it after a player decides to shoot instead of working it in to the opponent’s box.
GAME TWO: Home United 1-4 DPMM
In our second match, against Home United, we were the underdogs but managed a 1-4 away win. Home set up with a 3-5-2 formation, sort of sophisticated for this level, and their three centre midfield players outnumbered our two. Neverthless, we could still find our forwards.
This move resulted in Motaung trying to play Jailson through on goal but the pass ran to Home’s goalkeeper. A decent move though.
A good deep cross from Toro bypasses Home’s three-man defence and finds winger Amran out wide to score the opener exposing the main weakness of the 3-5-2 formation.
Wingers provide an alternative route to goal with more direct passing/ crossing. Until this 40th minute goal it was hard to see where a goal would come from, if anything, Home looked more likely to score as they had good possession on the edge of our box.
GAME THREE: Niigata Unicorn (Singapore) 3-2 DPMM
Just when I thought we were going to steamroller everyone with our new signings and tactic we came a cropper against Niigata.
Hamano opener for the home team was barely avoidable due to a great over-the-top ball by their right centre back, Hasumi.
Our left back is doing his job in marking their right midfielder so I don’t think you can criticise him, however, if our left centre back, Sabia, was a more mature defender, he might have read the danger and stuck with the goalscorer.
I doubt their first goal had anything to do with our tactics though, it was just a great pass.
What I didn’t plan for or know until I closely examined our performance was our attacking quartet, a striker, attacking midfielder and two wingers, were staying in the opponent’s half after we lost possession and didn’t attempt to track back until the opponent had methodically worked the ball well in to our half where our defence was in danger of being overrun by their attack and midfield.
This was probably my fault as I told my players to always close down each of the opposition and my attackers might not have known whether to mark their defenders or other players involved in their counter attack.
Despite being a risky strategy, the aggressive pressing of my attackers yielded our first and equalising goal as our ball winning midfielder won the ball back in Niigata’s half, passed to our attacking midfielder who played our striker through to score.
If you’d like to download this tactic you can do so here.