SJI Wins First Schools’ Football Title In 30 Years

Four years after re-instating football in the school’s curriculum, St Joseph’s Institution (SJI) claimed their first football title in 30 years when they beat Queensway Secondary School 1-0 in the final of the National Schools’ South Zone B Division Football Championship at SAFRA Tampines today (April 1).

The goal separating the two sides came in dramatic fashion in the dying minutes of extra time when, freed by midfielder Elliot Ng on the right, Nasrul Matin delivered a cross for the unmarked Jared Ng to tap the ball past Queensway keeper Ismail Aung Htun Thu.

But SJI were left on edge when Mari Martinez was sent off for two senseless infringements, including a handball that gave Queensway the opportunity to take the match into extra time.

However, Queensway, the better side for most of the match, failed to convert the free kick as referee Victor Teo blew the final whistle.

SJI’s victory capped four years of hard work by former LionsXII assistant coach and national defender Kadir Yahaya, who was hired in 2012 to help SJI build a decent footballing side after they dropped the sport in 2000.

They were quick to announce their return, reaching the South Zone C Division Final the following year, but lost 2-1 to Serangoon Garden Secondary School. That defeat only strengthened the team’s resolve to work harder.

“My team is not as skilful as Queensway, but this is the same team that played in the C Division final two years ago and what got them the winners’ trophy in the end boiled down to sheer hard work,” said Kadir.

“What has been equally important is that the school did not interfere in my work and this gave me a lot of room to implement my training programme.”

Better known for its rugby teams, SJI took football off its list of co-curricular activities in 2000, citing declining interest and resource constraints.

It returned after the SJI Old Boys alumni called for its reinstatement, said Bernard Teo, the teacher-in-charge of football at SJI.

“There is renewed interest in football at the school with a different crop of students we are getting at SJI,” he said.

“They have shown more discipline to work hard for the sport and are achieving things and this is good for the school.”



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