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Sazali Abdul Aziz
Thursday, Oct 30, 2014

Sports

Quintet vying for S League's top-scorer award

The New Paper | Sazali Abdul Aziz | Thursday, Oct 30, 2014

Nicolas Velez (left) chasing after Goran Ljubojevic during an S.League match.

RODRIGO TOSI

(Brunei DPMM, 23 goals)

The 31-year-old Brazilian looks a completely different player from last season.

He bagged only eight goals last term as DPMM toiled to a disappointing eighth-placed finish and his body language then suggested he was not enjoying his football.

But former Blackburn Rovers manager Steve Kean, who took over at the start of the season, recognised the striker's quality and kept him as the only retained import player.

The Scot has been handsomely rewarded for his faith. Tosi has been an incredible model of consistency this season and has not gone more than one game without scoring.

His superb technique and versatility give Kean the option to play him either as an out-an-out striker alongside 15-goal Roy O'Donovan or in a withdrawn role as a playmaker.

  • On fire against: Balestier Khalsa (five goals)
  • Blanks against: Hougang United

 

KAZUKI SAKAMOTO

(Albirex Niigata, 21 goals)

If the 24-year-old finds the net against DPMM tonight, he will be the only player to score against every S.League team this season.

With Albirex having two matches left, Sakamoto is Tosi's most serious challenger for the top-scorer award.

Like Tosi, he has been remarkably consistent and his longest "barren spell" lasted only two games.

Not the quickest, tallest or strongest of players, it is Sakamoto's nose for goal and instinct in the box that make him such a dangerous striker.

His tally is all the more impressive considering he is one of eight players Albirex retained from last season, meaning he has had to adapt to new teammates and a different playing style under new coach Tatsuyuki Okuyama.

  • On fire against: Home United and Harimau Muda B (four each)
  • Blanks against: DPMM

 

NICOLAS VELEZ

(Warriors FC, 21 goals)

Seven games without a goal is a long time for a striker.

After a quarter of the season, Warriors fans could have been forgiven for wondering if their club had signed a dud in Velez.

But when the Argentinian got going, boy, did he do it in style, netting a jaw-dropping four goals against Albirex on April 16.

The goals boosted his confidence, and Velez turned into one of the most entertaining players in the S.League.

Tricks, flicks, rabonas, elasticos... you name it, the 24-year-old has attempted it, sometimes to the exasperation of coach Alex Weaver.

He needs to score a brace in the Warriors' final match on Friday to move level with Tosi. But, with the Warriors hosting Albirex on home turf, Velez might just fancy his chances.

  • On fire against: Albirex and Courts Young Lions (five each)
  • Blanks against: Woodlands Wellington

 

GORAN LJUBOJEVIC

(Balestier, 20 goals)

It has been a successful debut season for the 31-year-old Croat.

The former Dinamo Zagreb star is just one strike away from matching former Tigers striker Goran Paulic's 1997 league haul of 21, which remains the best in the club's history.

He has already met coach Marko Kraljevic's ambitious pre-season target of 20 goals.

The 1.90m-tall forward has also developed from being simply a big target for long balls, into a focal point for a slick Balestier attacking unit.

He has scored an astounding nine goals in his last seven S.League games.

Ljubojevic needs a hat-trick on Friday, in a dress rehearsal for Nov 7's RHB Singapore Cup final against Home, to stand a chance of sharing the Golden Boot.

He has bagged four braces already this season. A treble would be the perfect way to end the season.

  • On fire against: Hougang and Harimau Muda (three each)
  • Blanks against: Tampines Rovers

 

GEISON MOURA

(Hougang, 19 goals)

Okay, so the Brazilian is an outsider in this race.

He'll have to score four goals in the Cheetahs' last game against Tanjong Pagar United tomorrow, to even stand a chance of sharing the gong.

But the 28-year-old deserves an honourable mention for being the only player from this elite group to play for a bottom-half club.

To put his 19-goal haul in context, the next most prolific scorer from a bottom-six team is Geylang International's Leo Felice, who has just 12.

  • On fire against: Geylang (four)
  • Blanks against: Warriors

 

 


This article was first published on October 28, 2014.
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