Singapore Cup • November 9, 2014

Kraljevic Proud Of Players After Historic Feat

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Written by: Phoon Jia Hui

Balestier Khalsa clinched their first-ever RHB Singapore Cup trophy after a 3-1 victory over Home United at the Jalan Besar Stadium and coach Marko Kraljevic was on cloud nine after the match.

“I’m very happy, of course,” a beaming Kraljevic said. “Home beat us 1-0 [a week ago], but what’s most important is the boys stepped up and showed what they are capable of. I’m very proud of them.

“We had a bumpy road to final but we won [at the end of the day]. On the way to the final, we beat Warriors the league champions, Geylang International and Tampines Rovers. Why am I not confident?”

Reflecting on the season that had just passed, Kraljevic was pleased with the overall progress of the team.

“At beginning of the season it was a bit rough, because the boys didn’t know me and i didn’t know them,” he admitted.

“But slowly we build up and we as a small club had two or three key players injured and it was a loss. We missed them a lot, but they came back and made a difference. If I’m not wrong, we are the third-best defence in the league and credit must also be given to players like Nurullah [Hussein] and [Syed] Thaha.

“I have a few players who jumped in from last year, and they needed some time to gel together. We peaked at the right time and with a bit of luck, everything just fell in place. We finished top six when nobody expected us to.”

Kraljevic was impressed by youngster Ho Wai Loon who replaced Syed Thaha in an enforced change in the first-half.

“This guy is good. You see when he get the ball, he looks for options and not pump the ball upfield,” he said of the 21-year-old.

“I think he can get better and he’s a good left-back. He just returned from army two months ago,  he didn’t play much football during his NS [National Service]. However, he is slowly getting better and better after training with us.”

A clearly downcast Lee Lim Saeng on the other hand, refused to pin any blame on his players for the result.

“I’m very disappointed in myself. I cannot blame the players, losing the game is my fault,” he lamented. “We also missed our chances, but we definitely didn’t play our style.”

“I want to try talk to the club, to ask what’s the best way [forward] for Home United.

“I tried to follow modern football with the players. Unfortunately we didn’t play consistently [this season] and I was confused myself and tried to find what’s the best way. I will take all the criticisms as a coach.”