News • July 1, 2016
RHB Singapore Cup 2016: Tigers Through To Semis Despite Draw With Protectors
Written by: Shawn Lim
Balestier Khalsa have secured a place in the semi-finals of the RHB Singapore Cup despite being held to a 2-2 draw by Home United in the quarter-finals second-leg at Bishan Stadium on Thursday night.
The Tigers won the first-leg 2-1, but two crucial goals against the Protectors was enough for the visitors to secure a narrow 4-3 victory on aggregate.
The Protectors, determined to reduce the deficit, forced a save from Zaiful Nizam inside six minutes of the game when Ken Ilso sent a cross-field pass to Ambroise Begue, whose low cross into the box was caught by the Tigers custodian before it could reach Khairul Nizam.
It was all square in the tie five minutes later when good link-up play between Azhar Sairudin and Ilso teed up Nizam on the edge the box, whose low and hard shot towards goal went in off the far post with Zaiful beaten.
The hosts came close to adding a second in the 24th minute, but Begue shot straight at Zaiful after doing well to cut inside Hanafi Salleh when he received Ilso’s pass inside the 18-yard box.
Balestier was almost punished for some slack defending in the 32nd minute when Nizam easily shrugged off Emir Lotinac to go through on goal, but Zaiful positioned himself well to force the striker to shoot wide.
The visitors found goalscoring opportunities hard to come by as the Protectors’ defence stood firm, but managed to regained the lead in the tie a minute later with their first real chance of the game when Niko Tokic powered home a header from Jamil Ali’s corner-kick at the far post.
Home emerged from the break re-focused and dangerous as they searched for a way back into the tie and duly levelled the tie in the 55th minute when Ilso slammed home substitute Shamil Sharif’s cut-back from the byline.
However, a horrendous mistake from Zulfairuz Rudy four minutes later saw the Home custodian allowing a tame shot from Tokic to slip under him as the tie swung in the Tigers’ favour again.
A glorious opportunity fell to home in the 74th minute when Balestier fail to clear their lines after Juma’at Jantan sent in a cross to the box, but substitute Haziq Azman fired an effort wide of the mark from outside the box after the ball fell to him.
As the game’s final minutes ticked by, the Tigers were contented to sit back in their own half and allow the Protectors to come at them, which saw Home grew increasingly desperate to find another goal to force the game into extra-time.
Substitute Sufianto Salleh let fly a shot from 25-yards out, before Azhar tried a hopeful punt from further out, but both attempts failed to trouble Zaiful as Balestier hung on to qualify for the semi-finals.
Home United coach Philippe Aw: “We lost today only in one department – Goalkeeping. Other than that, our outfield players were superb.
“There was only one team who wanted to win in this game. When you are dominating and you concede easy goals from goalkeeping errors, it is very tough for team.”
Balestier Khalsa coach Marko Kraljevic: “It was very tough even though we had the advantage, because Home like us, have only two cups to play for.
“They placed a lot of pressure on us and they played better this time. We were down 1-0, but managed to get back into the game by scoring from another set-piece in the first-half.
“In the second-half, we went down 2-1, but fought back to make it 2-2. Home placed a lot of pressure on us after that, but we did well to see the game out.”
Home United: Zulfairuz Rudy (GK), Redzwan Atan, Abdil Qaiyyim, Juma’at Jantan (C) (Sufianto Salleh 74′), Aqhari Abdullah, Azhar Sairudin, Zulfahmi Arifin, Syahiran Miswan (Haziq Azman 71′), Ambroise Begue, Khairul Nizam (Shamil Sharif 41′), Ken Ilso
Balestier Khalsa: Zaiful Nizam (GK) (C), Fadli Kamis, Hanafi Salleh, Sheikh Abdul Hadi, Emir Lotinac, Tan Danial Farhan, Gary Loo, Jamil Ali (Ahmad Syahir 76′), Syafiq Zainal (Smajovic Sadin 54′), Fadhil Noh (Zulkiffli Hassim 60′), Niko Tokic