News • February 5, 2016
S.League 2016 Team Preview: Balestier Khalsa
Written by: Shawn Lim
After winning the RHB Singapore Cup in 2014, Balestier Khalsa have transformed into a club that is capable of beating anyone on their day under Marko Kraljevic.
The Tigers also proved that one can challenge for honours even with an unfancied squad, as they stayed in title contention for a large part of the Great Eastern Yeo’s S.League 2015, only to lose steam in the end and finish fourth.
The club also got their first taste of continental action for the first time in their history last year, taking part in the AFC Cup. They will do so again this year as the second-top local team in the league.
This season however, looks set to be extremely tough for the Toa Payoh-based club after losing key players like Igor Cerina, Ignatius Ang and Poh Yifeng, all of whom are crucial to how Kraljevic wants his side to play.
But the Tigers can take comfort in the fact that last season’s club top-scorer Miroslav Kristic is still with the club, alongside fellow Europeans like Emir Lotinac and Robert Pericic.
Joining them will be veterans like Jamil Ali, Fazli Ayob and Shah Hirul, while former Courts Young Lions (now known as Garena Young Lions) defenders Fadli Kamis and Sheikh Abdul Hadi adds speed to the backline.
While the squad looks threadbare thin again this year, Kraljevic has shown he can get the best out of his players, whether in league or cup competitions.
That will be crucial for the Tigers, as they seek to navigate through another challenging year and hope to add another trophy to their cabinet.
Coach Profile – Marko Kraljevic
The Croatian has been criticised in some quarters for being too defensive sometimes, but Krajlevic won’t be changing his style anytime soon.
After all, since taking over from Darren Stewart, the 51-year-old has won the Singapore Cup, taken Balestier to the AFC Cup for the first time in the club’s history and almost snatched the S.League title last year.
Kraljevic, a huge proponent of teamwork, has also consistently stated that his team has no star players and everyone is equal, which is one of the reasons why Balestier players play their hearts out for their club.
If the Croatian is able to get the best of out his team again for the third year running, it would not be a surprise to see the Tigers challenging for honours again this season.
Star Player – Miroslav Kristic
The 25-year-old settled down well in his first year in Singapore football, scoring 16 goals in 24 appearances, to finish third in the goalscoring charts.
The Tigers will need the Croatian to continue his rich vein of form if they want to challenge for honours again this year.
S.League.com Season Prediction: 8th
The Tigers have not adequately replaced Ang, Cerina and Poh, which will could ultimately proved to be their undoing, as they will struggle not only to create chances, but keep the ball out of the back of the net as well.
Balestier Khalsa 2016 S.League squad
Sheikh Abdul Hadi
Ho Wai Loon