News • October 16, 2016
Protectors Reignite AFC Cup Dream
Written by: Nevin Gabriel Khoo
Home United reignite their AFC Cup dream, taking advantage of Hougang United’s loss to newly-crowned Great Eastern Yeo’s S.League champions Albirex Niigata (S) the previous day, as they defeated Balestier Khalsa 5-0 at the Toa Payoh Stadium on Saturday night.
With an AFC Cup slot firm in their sight, the Protectors wasted no time in stamping their dominance early in the match, scoring the first goal in the 12th minute. Ambroise Begue’s freekick deep into the box found Song who eluded his marker to thump home the opening goal of the match.
The Tigers then made matters worse for themselves in the 10 minutes later by gifting the Protectors the easiest of goals.
A miscommunication at the back between Sheikh Abdul Hadi and custodian Zaiful Nizam resulted in the latter failing to punch the ball away. Striker Irfan Fandi gleefully picked up the loose ball and slotted home the easiest of goals to double the away team’s lead.
With a two goal lead, the visitors played with increasing confidence stroking the ball around with precision and speed. It was thus unsurprising when they added a third goal in the 30th minute.
Neat one touch passing carved opened the home side’s defence. A cutback into the box found captain Juma’at Jantan who displayed great skill and composure to flick the ball past a helpless Zaiful.
It was 4-0 to the away team in the final minute of the first half as yet another brilliant attacking display by Home presented Irfan with the easiest of tap-ins for his second goal of the night.
The hosts began the second half eager to reduce the deficit and they nearly did so a minute after the restart.
A dummy run by Syafiq Zainal created space for teammate Hazzuwan to receive the ball in the box, but the latter’s shot from a tight angle crashed off the crossbar and was cleared away by the away team’s defence.
It proved to be their best chance of the night as Marko Kraljevic’s charges failed to produce anymore decent attempts on goal.
Despite having a superior lead in the match, Aidil Sharin’s team did not slow down the game tempo and constantly on the prowl for more goals.
Their effort was finally rewarded when substitute Ang Zhi Wei made it five-nil in the 82nd minute. A brilliant outer-foot through ball from Aqhari Abdullah put Ang on goal and defender added his name onto the scoresheet with his first few touches of the game.
The AFC Cup hopefuls saw out the remaining minutes of the game with much ease and would have been extremely contented to end the night with a clean sheet and three vital points.
Balestier Khalsa head coach Mirko Kraljevic: “I am very disappointed especially in the first half. We did not defend well. We had three players coming back from injury in the back four and it did not work today. Conceding four goals (the match) becomes very difficult to play. We were better in the second half. We had a few chances but the ball did not go in.”
“(On Hazzuwan’s shot that rattled off the crossbar in the second half.) It would give us some hope but it would be very tough. Today we did not play and congratulations to Home United, they were the much better team today.”
Home United head coach Aidil Sharin: “We did not expect (a 5-0 victory) because it is always difficult to come here. We failed to get a result here in the past two seasons so to score four goals in the first half, it was a shock for us. But I think that the boys deserve it after putting a lot of pressure.”
“When you score more goals the confidence is high but not to forget that we got a clean sheet today which is very good for the team especially the back four. This season we don’t have a very good goals against us record (third worst record) so hopefully it will carry on for this.”
Balestier Khalsa: Zaiful Nizam (GK, C), Fadli Kamis, Emir Lotinac, Shah Hirul, Sheikh Abdul Hadi, Jamil Ali (Zulkhair Mustaffa 75’), Fadhil Noh (Smajovic Sadin 45’), Syafiq Zainal, Ahmad Syahir, Ho Wai Loon, Hazzuwan Halim
Home United: Eko Pradana (GK), Song Uiyoung (Zulfahmi Arifin 73’), Juma’at Jantan (C), Aqhari Abdullah, Azhar Sairudin, Faris Ramli (Ang Zhi Wei 80’), Sirina Camara, Haziq Azman, Shamil Sharif, Irfan Fandi, Ambroise Begue (Mahathir Azeman 45’)