Just as quickly Season 17 have ended, Season 18 was next as Sharks opened their accounts against rivals The Usual Suspects whom they last met in Season 16 which ended in a 3-5 defeat as Sharks were on a slum at the end of that season. For the opener, Sharks look to improve further after a forgettable season when they narrowly missed relegation to Division 4 but with the likes of midfield lynchpins Graeme, Brendan and Ryan out of town, the manager were having a hard time to come out with a competitive midfield.
Karzzan and Chris got the nod to start in the middle with Vince knowing that he might me needed midway into the first half. Sharks started the game in a positive manner as they confidently stroked the ball around the pitch in the opening minutes. It didn't take long for them to open their accounts as Harold broke free off a long searching ball from Yi Quan. The winger pin-point cross was met by Jon who scored with a thumping header right inside the six yard box to give his team an early lead. That seemed to put the boys a little at ease but TUS was always dangerous on the ball whereby a couple of their new signings looked intent to get their team back in the game especially their left winger who gave Jun Siong a lot of problems on the flank. However, against the run of play, Harold yet again broke free of his marker and his early cross found Li who finished simply with an unaccustomed left foot from close range. That was probably the only meaningful contribution made by the dimunitive player who till that point, was annoymous.
With 2 goals up at half-time, it was a reversal of fortune as the last game both teams met, TUS was having a comfortable 2 goal cushion. Second half started much like the first with Sharks comfortable to cushion whatever that is thrown at them with Vincent, Vince and Charlson particularly well to ensure that Mizan was well-protected while the likes of Yi Quan, Zhuoneng and Jun Siong ensured that they were always around TUS winger to ensure that those dangerous crosses do not reach their tall and burly frontment. Twenty minutes into the half, Isaac made a terrific pass to get Jon goal-bound and free of his marker. With a lot still to do, he spotted the custodian off his line and with predatory instinct, he lob it over the custodian. Despite getting a touch to it, the ball managed to trickle into the net for his second and Sharks third goal. That seemed to be set, game and match but TUS had other ideas as they pulled back shortly after the restart. And to make matters more interesting, Karzzan got himself sent off after reacting to an earlier challenge by the custodian. Down to 10 man, TUS began to pile pressure and the closest they got was a contentious indirect free-kick inside the box after a dangerous play by Charlson which left TUS bemused that they were not awarded a penalty instead. The resulting freekick missed the goal by an inch as Mizan was relieved to see the ball go out. Sharks however managed to hold on for a vital 3 points to start the season on a positive note.
The manager commented, 'We wanted to get off to a good start and with 3 points, we have no complaints as we were sharp upfront and solid at the back.'
When queried on Karzzan's sending off, 'There's no question; any retaliation and off you go. He will just learn it by doing kitman duties for the rest of the season.'