Singapore Premier League • September 4, 2014

Harimau Not Looking To Do Balestier Any Favours


Harimau Muda vs Balestier Khalsa

(September 5, Friday, 8.45pm, Pasir Gudang Stadium)

Written by: Phoon Jia Hui

Following Hougang United’s defeat to Harimau Muda on Tuesday, Balestier Khalsa will now have a chance to make sixth spot theirs when they face the latter on Friday evening at the Pasir Gudang Stadium.

Balestier currently sit seventh in the Great Eastern Yeo’s S.League standings with 30 points, three behind Hougang but with a better goal difference (+8) as opposed to the Cheetahs (+1). A win here would hence see them leapfrog Hougang and finish in the top half for the third year running.

A defeat though, will spell the end of the Tigers’ top six hopes and they will then compete with the likes of Geylang International, Tanjong Pagar United and Woodlands Wellington all of whom are in the bottom six in the half-round.

The fight for sixth spot went down to the wire after Hougang slipped up in their last two matches and that allowed Balestier to close down the gap to just three points ahead of the last round of matches.

That said, Balestier coach Marko Kraljevic is well-aware that they can ill-afford to slip up.

“Before this game [Hougang vs Harimau], it was not in our hands but now everything is in our hands,” said the Croatian.

“[We have been] playing well and now it’s in our hands. Like I said, we depended on Hougang but now we will depend on ourselves [to collect all three points and finish sixth].”

Kraljevic who revealed that skipper Paul Cunningham could play some part, admitted it will be a difficult game but believes they have enough in them to see off the Young Tigers.

“They [Harimau] are very fast and quick, it will be very tough but that’s football, he observed.

“I think we play well and the same team will play, there will be no changes. They don’t have the height, we have big height in Goran [Ljubojevic] so this is our advantage and [I think] we will be OK. I mean if we play on the ground [we have] Park [Kang Jin] but set pieces we also have the advantage.”

Harimau meanwhile are on a three-match unbeaten run and will be looking for three points to end their Round Two of the S.League on a high.

They have only claimed three victories this season, against namely Woodlands Wellington, Tanjong Pagar United and Geylang International while having lost 15 games and let in 52 goals.

While Harimau have nothing much to play off, coach Razip Ismail warned that he will not be looking to give Balestier an easy game. Instead, Razip aims to end Round Two on a high.

“I am hoping [to win], we play at home and I think we should get the three points,” the Harimau coach expressed.

“To me they are a good team, they use their experience well, they have good foreign players. They have their advantage, but at this moment we are not fighting for something, and this would work to our advantage.”

The Young Tigers will be without both goalkeeper Ilham Amirullah after he was sent off against Hougang as well as Irfan Zakaria who picked up his fourth yellow of the season while Balestier’s Syed Thaha will also sit out as he serves the second of his two-match suspension.

Suspensions: Ilham Amirullah, Irfan Zakaria (Harimau Muda); Syed Thaha (Balestier Khalsa).

Key Men To Watch

Harimau Muda: Asri Mardzuki

Having missed a huge chunk of the first-half of the season for Harimau, it seems the defender-cum-midfielder is keen to make up for lost time.

Blessed with a sweet left foot, 20-year-old Asri stood out for his side in their win over Hougang in their last game with his excellent range of passing and even capped it off with a well-taken goal from a freekick for his first of the season.

Balestier Khalsa: Goran Ljubojevic

After two rounds of the S.League season, Ljubojevic has certainly justified his marquee player tag for Balestier.

Statistics speaks for itself and 15 goals in 22 games is testament of that. The burly forward will hence be looking to add to that tally against a porous Harimau defence who have conceded 52 goals prior to this game.

Harimau Muda – WDDLW

2/9/14      Hougang United 1-2 Harimau Muda

30/8/14    Woodlands Wellington 1-1 Harimau Muda

3/8/14      Courts Young Lions 0-0 Harimau Muda

22/6/14    Harimau Muda 1-4 Brunei DPMM

19/6/14    Geylang International 2-3 Harimau Muda

Balestier Khalsa – WDWWW

27/8/14    Balestier Khalsa 4-1 Hougang United

21/8/14    Balestier Khalsa 3-3 Brunei DPMM

31/7/14    Geylang International 1-2 Balestier Khalsa

24/7/14    Tampines Rovers 3-0 Balestier Khalsa (StarHub League Cup Plate Final)

19/7/14    Balestier Khalsa 2-0 Singapore Recreation Club (StarHub League Cup Plate SF)

Head to Head (S.League)

30/4/14    Balestier Khalsa 2-0 Harimau Muda

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