League Cup • July 10, 2014

Confident DPMM Take On Fatigued Tigers

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StarHub League Cup Group D

Brunei DPMM vs Balestier Khalsa

(July 11, Friday, 8.00pm, Jalan Besar Stadium)

Written by: Kenneth Ho

Balestier did not get off to a good start in its StarHub League Cup 2014 campaign as they crashed to a 3-0 defeat by Hougang United in the Group D opener, but they will have shot at redemption by going against Brunei DPMM in their last group match.

This is a must-win match for the Tigers if they are to harbour any hopes for progressing to the quarter-finals, as anything less will see them eliminated.

Balestier have not been helped by a runs of games which have seen them played almost a game almost every four days. The toll on the team could be seen during the match against Hougang, as the Tigers were sluggish and could barely muster the energy to close down on their opponents quickly.

While previously insisting that he will field his strongest line-up whatever the case, Balestier coach Marko Kraljevic has had a change of heart after the lacklustre display he witnessed in the game against Hougang.

Insisting that even though DPMM are a top team, Kraljevic believes his team is capable of surprising the current league leaders. But with the game coming three days after the Hougang game, the tactician realises that he might have to shuffle his line-up to ensure that his players remain fresh.

“Maybe I will put on fresh legs, but we will have to assess our squad’s fitness first,” Kraljevic said. “Everybody always have chances to win, we start with 0-0 and will do what we can.”

Balestier will have it all to do against a confident DPMM, who have rebounded from their last loss to go on a five-game unbeaten run.

Steve Kean let on that his side have enjoyed their fair share of luck this season so far, but added that they were buoyed by their league form as well as the making of the semi-finals in the RHB Singapore Cup.

“We have been fortunate this year that we  have won lots of games. We’ve had some little bumps on the road where we have not manage to get victory. It will be tough but we will enjoy the League Cup and focus on the Singapore Cup semi-finals when it comes around,” he said.

Balestier will need to look out for Rodrigo Tosi and Roy O’Donovan up front, and that will be a big ask given that they are still missing their first-choice centre-back Paul Cunningham due to injury.

Whoever starts beside Emir Lotinac needs to work well together in order to deny the duo space in the box, or DPMM will make Balestier pay for allowing them any.

That being said, it is more than likely that Balestier are in for a tough time given the form that DPMM are in. The Tigers will do well to learn from their last meeting with the league leaders when they were trounced 4-1 in Brunei.

Suspension: Muhd Subhi Abdilah Bakir (Brunei DPMM FC)

Brunei DPMM – WWWWD

4/7/14     Brunei DPMM 2-1 Albirex Niigata (S) (RHB Singapore Cup Quarter-Final Second Leg)

29/6/14   Albirex Niigata (S) 3-4 Brunei DPMM (RHB Singapore Cup Quarter-Final First Leg)

22/6/14   Harimau Muda 1-4 Brunei DPMM

18/6/14   Courts Young Lions 2-3 Brunei DPMM

14/6/14   Brunei DPMM 0-0 Geylang International

Balestier Khalsa –  LWWLW

8/7/14     Balestier Khalsa 0-3 Hougang United

2/7/14     Geylang International  1-0 (AET) (3-4p ) Balestier Khalsa (RHB Singapore Cup QF 2nd Leg)

28/6/14   Balestier Khalsa 2-1 Geylang International (RHB Singapore Cup QF 1st Leg Leg)

24/6/14   Balestier Khalsa 0-2 Tampines Rovers

20/6/14   Balestier Khalsa 3-0 Home United