Singapore Premier League • September 22, 2015
Draw Dents Tigers’ Title Hopes
Written By: Kenneth Ho
Balestier Khalsa’s bid for a first-ever Great Eastern Yeo’s S.League title took a hit on Tuesday evening after they settled for a 0-0 draw with Harimau Muda.
The stalemate, along with league leaders Brunei DPMM’s 2-1 win over Courts Young Lions on the same day, meant that the Tigers are now eight points off the pace with only seven games remaining.
The result will have disappointed Balestier, but it was a thoroughly fair point for both sides in a game where chances were few and far between.
Defensively, both teams were excellent in the first half and it resulted in mainly long shots being made in an attempt by either side to take the lead.
Harimau goalkeeper Farhan Abu Bakar was forced to make a clean catch in the 10th minute following Tarik Cmajcanin’s 25-yard shot while Ridzuan Abdunloh lashed wide from 20 yards out.
The Young Tigers then squandered two set-pieces, with Adam Nor and Ridzuan both heading wide after Akhir Bahari provided them with good deliveries in the 18th and 27th minute respectively.
Asri Mardzuki nearly scored a brilliant goal just before the half-hour mark when his dipping 25-yard free-kick seemed destined for the back of the net until Zaiful Nizam made a stretching save to tip it away.
The game continued in the same vein in the second half with goal-scoring opportunities continuing to be at a premium.
Miroslav Kirstic will rue not pulling the trigger when he could in the 50th minute to allow Annas Rahmat a chance to redeem himself and clear the ball away after he gave away the ball to the striker.
Igor Cerina was next to miss the target as he headed over from Cmajcanin’s corner two minutes later.
Harimau came close next in the 69th minute, although Ridzuan was unable to convert a rebound after Adam’s long-range scorcher was parried by Zaiful.
Zulkiffli Hassim was then denied by Farhan in the 79th minute, with the goalkeeper’s palms stung by his fierce drive.
Ignatius Ang could have also sneaked in a late winner when the ball fell for him in the box but he blasted his shot over instead.
Both teams will play each other again in their next game, with Balestier making the trip across the Causeway to the Hang Jebat Stadium.
Balestier Khalsa: Zaiful Nizam (GK) (C), Hanafi Salleh, Emir Lotinac, Igor Cerina, Nurullah Hussein (Hazzuwan Halim 73′), Zulkiffli Hassim (Akbar Zainudeen 80′), Ridwan Jamil (Jonathan Xu 57′), Robert Pericic, Tarik Cmajcanin, Miroslav Kristic, Ignatius Ang
Harimau Muda: Farhan Abu Bakar (GK), Wan Ahmad Zafran (C), Irfan Zakaria, Adam Nor, Ridzuan Abdunloh Pula (Syawal Nordin 90′), Asri Mardzuki, Akhir Bahari, Annas Rahmat, Kenny Palraj (Ariff Farhan 69′), Amirul Ikmal (Syahrul Azwari 71′), Syafwan Syahlan