Singapore Premier League • April 28, 2014
Battle of Tigers at Toa Payoh
Balestier Khalsa vs Harimau Muda
(April 30, Wednesday, 7.30pm, Toa Payoh Stadium)
Written by: Kenneth Ho
It will be a case of the Tigers against the Young Tigers at Toa Payoh Stadium on Wednesday, as Balestier Khalsa take on the young developmental Malaysian side Harimau Muda.
Both teams not only have similar nicknames, but have been suffering a similar fate in form, with Harimau noticeably the worse of the two.
The statistics and table do not lie, and as far as form goes, the Young Tigers are having a woeful season so far.
Sitting at the bottom of the table and without a point to their name, it seems like the young lads from Harimau are destined for a cruel baptism of fire as they experience life in a professional league.
Not helping their cause has been Harimau’s lack of a consistent goalkeeper within their mix.
Harimau featured two goalkeepers against Hougang United in their 4-3 defeat last round, but saw both young custodians Solehin Mamat and his replacement Ilham Amirullah committing errors which led to three goals being conceded.
Harimau coach Razip Ismail also knows this is a real issue but insisted his first-choice goalkeeper Ramdhan Hamid is still recovering from an injury, and that he has no choice but to persist with the two aforementioned goalkeepers.
Balester on the other hand have faltered after a bright start, and are now winless in their last six league games.
The hosts come into this game on the back of a 4-1 trouncing by league leaders Brunei DPMM, and morale surely must be low around the Balestier camp.
The main reason for their poor form has been the absence of Park Kang Jin, the midfielder so often the reason why Balestier are on song.
Although the midfielder has indicated he is due for a return to the side in either this or the next game, even without Park, Balestier are still a better team than Harimau, and anything less than three points will be seen as a failure.
However, that might actually work in the Young Tigers’ favour, as the pressure is on Balestier to secure maximum points. While soaking up the pressure, Harimau can play on the counter by using the pace of Ramzi Haziq to hit Balestier on the break.
Suspension: Tajeli Bin Salamat (Balestier Khalsa)
Key Men To Watch
Balestier Khalsa: Kim Min Ho
There has been a lack of services for Balestier’s marquee signing Goran Ljubojevic, and Kim is partly responsible for that along with his teammates.
Even though Kim has scored two goals in three games, as a forward playing on the flanks, he cannot neglect his duty to back up his main striker too.
However the South Korean has not been doing a good job of that, as statistics will show. In the 90 minutes against Geylang, the forward only managed to complete 10 passes in total. Only two was directed towards the box, but none found any of its mark.
Kim need to step up his game in the absence of his South Korean compatriot Park, and start providing more crosses in for Ljubojevic to get onto.
Harimau Muda: Ramzi Haziq
Ramzi Haziq is actually one of the bright sparks in an inexperienced Harimau side, and he might be the difference for them against the Tigers.
The raw talent he has was plain for all to see in their last game against Hougang.
Ramzi tormented his marker Wahyudi Wahid with his pace so much that Hougang coach replaced the latter with Lau Meng Meng at the restart to keep the youngster in check.
Already with two assists to his name in as many games, the winger can be counted upon to make the necessary breakaway and provide a good cross into the box for the Young Tigers.
Balestier Khalsa – LDLLD
25/4/14 Brunei DPMM 4-1 Balestier Khalsa
17/4/14 Balestier Khalsa 1-1 Geylang International
13/4/14 Tampines Rovers 3-1 Balestier Khalsa
5/4/14 Home United 2-1 Balestier Khalsa
28/3/14 Balestier Khalsa 2-2 Warriors FC
Harimau Muda – LLLLL
24/4/14 Harimau Muda 3-4 Hougang United
20/4/14 Harimau Muda 2-3 Courts Young Lions
11/4/14 Brunei DPMM 5-0 Harimau Muda
3/4/14 Harimau Muda 0-3 Geylang International
27/3/14 Tampines Rovers 3-2 Harimau Muda
Head to Head (S.League)
11/7/13 Balestier Khalsa 1-1 Harimau Muda
29/3/13 Harimau Muda 1-1 Balestier Khalsa
27/10/12 Harimau Muda 2-2 Balestier Khalsa
20/4/12 Balestier Khalsa 2-0 Harimau Muda