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Analysis: Song Lam Nghe An impress with total control

Sunday, February 11, 2018
Tampines-Song Lam Nghe An

Singapore: Song Lam Nghe An, last year’s Vietnamese Cup winners, got their AFC Cup 2018 campaign off to the best possible start with an impressive 2-0 in over Tampines Rovers on Saturday.

What was impressive about their victory was the way they took the game to Tampines Rovers, playing on the front foot and controlling the match.

Olaha in control

One of the most impressive performances for Song Lam Nghe An was that of Nigerian Michael Olaha.

The 20-year-old was a constant threat throughout the match, with his size and mobility proving difficult for the Tampines Rovers defence to handle, taking the game on and linking up well with his fellow attacking players in Ho Phuc Tinh and Ho Khac Ngoc.

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As evidenced by his heat map (below), he wasn’t isolated in one particular area of the pitch, rather he was working across the entire front half, floating from side to side, playing as the target man at the point of the attack, or drifting out wide and finding pockets of space to exploit.

Midfield Dynamo

Song Lam Nghe An did so well in pushing numbers into midfield to force the turnover, and then using their pace on the counter attack to catch out the Tampines Rovers defence.

One of their best on the night, and key to a lot of their transitions, was Ho Khac Ngoc, who picked up a goal and an assist for his performance.

As evidenced by his attacking graph below, Khac Ngoc had a super impressive evening, amassing a total of 67 passes and an accuracy of 87 percent, and included three key passes and two shots on goal.

What was so important and impressive was that so many of his passes went forward. He rarely went backwards or wasted the ball, especially when in his own attacking half, always looking to play at a high tempo. He always looked to move their attack forward and looked for the next link in the chain.

Wasted Opportunities

It was a frustrating night for Tampines Rovers, not least because they spurned opportunities early to take the lead, which could have made it a very different match.

One of those most frustrated will be attacker Fazrul Nawaz. 

The Singaporean international did well early to find pockets of space and get in behind the Song Lam Nghe An defence, but too often wasted the opportunity when he did so, as evidenced by the graph below, which shows from all his attempts and key involvements, only one shot was on target.

With a little more composure in the key moments, it could have been a very different night for both him and Tampines Rovers.