Singapore Premier League • June 10, 2018

Balestier cruise past Young Lions to get back to winning ways


The Tigers prevailed 2-0 to move up one spot to third in the league standings.  

Akbar Shah celebrates after scoring his first professional goal for Balestier Khalsa.

SINGAPORE, 10 JUNE 2018 – Balestier Khalsa FC won for the first time in three Great Eastern-Hyundai Singapore Premier League (SPL) games after defeating Young Lions 2-0 at the Jalan Besar Stadium on Sunday.

Huzaifah Aziz and substitute Akbar Shah scored in either half to give the Tigers three valuable points, which saw them leapfrog Home United FC into third place in the league standings.

It was a scrappy affair throughout, with both sides unable to hold onto the ball for extended periods, though Balestier looked more threatening on the attack.

But it was the Young Lions who had the first real chance of the game early on. Naqiuddin Eunos, making his return to the team from injury, scuffed his shot after being set up by Irfan Fandi’s superb ball out from the back.

Brilliant defending in the 33th minute from Adam Hakeem then prevented Keegan Linderboom from finding the net, after the striker was sent through by a superb pass from Fariz Faizal.

Balestier found the breakthrough just two minutes before the break after a blunder from Young Lions goalkeeper Zharfan Rohaizad.

The 21-year-old failed to collect Hazzuwan Halim’s delivery from a corner and the ball fell kindly for Huzaifah, who smashed in a powerful effort into the net through a sea of bodies.

It took until the 62nd minute before either team had a chance again. It came the Young Lions’ way, but a poor first touch from Haiqal Pashia meant that an opportunity to equalise went begging after Zulqarnaen Suzliman picked him out with a sweet cross.

The hosts suffered a blow in the 65th minute, after Ikhsan Fandi – the team’s top scorer – had to be replaced in the 65th minute due to what appeared to be a twisted ankle.

Irfan was then pushed up front and that change would prove crucial in the 78th minute.

Vedran Mesec outjumped three Young Lions defenders to nod on a long ball towards the unmarked Akbar, who had come on just three minutes earlier. Left in acres of space, the forward cracked a left-footed volley with aplomb for his first ever professional goal to seal the three points.

The Young Lions would continue pushing late on, but they never came close to troubling Zaiful Nizam in the Balestier goal and extended their win-less streak to six games.

Balestier Khalsa will take on Hougang United next on 17 June at the Toa Payoh Stadium, while the Young Lions will take on Home United FC at the National Stadium on 23 June.

Young Lions Head Coach Fandi Ahmad: “(It was) another frustrating night for us again. We made the same mistakes with marking and ball watching. We had players with height to stop the long ball, but it’s about commitment and concentration.

“They are young, but they are repeating the mistakes and it’s very frustrating. You have to learn and pick it up. It’s not easy for young players. We will be giving the players a break for Hari Raya before we return for training on the 17th. I hope they will have a good rest and come back with renewed focus.”

Balestier Head Coach Marko Kraljevic: “We’re happy with the result, the clean sheet and three points. Akbar Shah was a bit upset at not getting his chance last game, he was happy that I gave him a chance this game and he scored. It’s good for him, he’s always working very hard. It’s very important to win today after two defeats – this is more about mental strength.”

Young Lions: Zharfan Rohaizad (GK), Adam Hakeem, Naqiuddin Eunos (R Aaravin 56′), Joshua Pereira, Ikhsan Fandi (Amer Hakeem 65′), Zulqarnaen Suzliman, Syahrul Sazali, Hami Syahin, Irfan Fandi (C), Naufal Azman, Haiqal Pashia (Ifwat Ismail 71′).
Unused subs: Hairul Syirhan (GK), Nazhiim Harman, Danial Syafiq, Asshukrie Wahid.

Balestier: Zaiful Nizam (GK) (C), Fadli Kamis, Khalili Khalif, Hazzuwan Halim (Nurisham Jupri 85′), Huzaifah Aziz, Sheikh Abdul Hadi, Fariz Faizal (Afiq Salman Tan 71′), Ahmad Syahir, Keegan Linderboom (Akbar Shah 75′), Vedran Mesec, Noor Akid Nordin.
Unused subs: Hafiz Ahmad (GK), Nurullah Hussein, Khairuddin Omar, Daniel Hazreel.

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