League Cup • July 19, 2014

Jaguars Steal Win In Close Affair


Written by: Phoon Jia Hui

Substitute Firdaus Idros was the hero for the night as he struck an extra-time winner to help book Tanjong Pagar United’s spot in the semi-finals of the 2014 StarHub League Cup after a 1-0 win over Warriors FC at Queenstown Stadium on Friday evening.

Coming off the bench midway through extra-time, the former Home United man picked up a pass from the right before drilling a low shot into the bottom corner.

It was end-to-end stuff but the Jaguars had a slight upper hand in the opening stages as they came close through Nor Azli Yusoff and Sebastien Etiemble, but they were denied by an alert Neezam Aziz and some brave defending from Warriors.

On the other hand, Warriors were finding it hard to breach a tight Tanjong Pagar defence so far then fashioned their first chance of the game just before the half-hour mark.

Nicholas Velez broke free down the left and cut the ball back for a waiting Hafiz Rahim on the edge of the six-yard box but the 30-year-old hit a low shot just wide.

In the 35th minute, Shi Jiayi found himself on the end of a flick on from Velez and hit one which trickled inches wide before Hanafi Salleh put in a crucial interception to prevent Velez’s shot from going in just three minutes later.

Neezam was then tested again on 42 minutes as he kept out Ahmad Latiff’s effort with his outstretched foot with referee Sukhbir Singh bringing the first-half to a close soon after.

Three minutes after the restart, the deadlock could have been broken by Velez but the Argentine contrived to fire wide with only the keeper to beat.

Though chances were at a premium thereafter, Patrick Vallee’s side were in firm control of proceedings as they looked dangerous on the break and nearly snatched a late winner towards the end of regulation time.

However, Neezam was at it once again, pulling off a stupendous save to block Etiemble’s ferocious drive to take the game into extra-time.

It was the same story in extra-time as clear chances were far and few between.

Hafiz Osman nodded just over following Kamel Ramdani’s free-kick delivery on 93 minutes before Daniel Bennett similarly sent a header which just cleared the bar at the other end moments later.

With the dreaded penalty shootout looming, it was Firdaus who then popped up with the all-important strike to send the Jaguars faithful into raptures with Neezam finally beaten.

Try as they might, the Warriors were unable to find the elusive equaliser as Tanjong Pagar set up a date with high-flying Hougang United in the last four of the competition.