STRIKER Syafwan Syahlan opened his S-League account for 10-man Young Tigers B in a 2-1 win over Young Lions at the Jalan Besar Stadium in Singapore on Thursday despite carrying an ankle injury.
Syafwan, 19, has been in and out of the team since joining from Kuala Lumpur on loan in February due to the injury but repaid coach Razip Ismail's faith by opening the scoring in the third minute after getting a touch to Syazwan Tajudin's low cross.
After Ridzuan Abdunloh Pula was sent off for retaliating to a tackle in the 38th minute by pushing his challenger in the back, Young Tigers B went to 2-0 in the first minute after the break when Hanif Dzahir smashed in a long-range shot off the crossbar.
The visitors held on for their first win in five matches despite conceding a 73rd-minute goal by Afiq Yunos as Razip heaped praise on his team's resilience.
"We played well despite having a player sent off in the first half," said Razip after the team's return to Kuala Lumpur yesterday. "Because we were a man down we had to work hard to hold on to our lead.
"But even with 10 players I thought we played much better and dominated the game. We have three more matches remaining and we have to win them all to finish in the top six."
Young Tigers B are still in seventh place with 27 points from 19 matches but are only three points behind third-placed Tanjong Pagar United, who have a game in hand.
Syafwan, who scored in a friendly against Sarawak last week, will have to undergo an operation on his ankle but is still able to play though not for a full game.
"He felt pain in his ankle against Sarawak but I decided to start with him because if the ankle hurts again, I can always substitute him. I took him off in the second half not because of his ankle but because we needed to protect our lead," said Razip, who gave Syafwan his senior team debut when he was the KL coach last year.
Young Tigers B will only return to action on Aug 26 when they are away to Home United before playing Hougang United four days later in Pasir Gudang. Ridzuan will be suspended for both games.
JORDAN have withdrawn from next month's Merdeka Tournament in Kuantan and the FA of Malaysia has invited Myanmar as the replacements.
The four-team tournament on Sept 5-15, an Under-23 affair, will allow national youth coach Ong Kim Swee to size up Malaysia's Sea Games challengers in December with Singapore and Thailand the other teams invited.