Singapore Premier League • November 2, 2015
Kraljevic: Title Race Is Over For Us
Written by: Shawn Lim
Balestier Khalsa coach Marko Kraljevic believes that the Great Eastern Yeo’s S.League title race has ended for his side after watching them come from behind to snatch a 1-1 draw with Hougang United on Sunday night.
Yuki Uchiyama opened the scoring for the hosts at Hougang Stadium before substitute Fadhil Noh equalised for the Tigers a minute from time.
The draw left the Tigers in second place on 41 points, five points behind leaders Brunei DPMM who have a game in hand.
Kraljevic conceded that he had all but given up on his side’s chances to win the title after dropping two crucial points, and admitted that finishing in the top three will be a more achievable target now.
“We have played the most games in the S.League. We played in AFC (Cup), we played in (The New Paper) League Cup final,” said the Croatian.
“The squad is not that big and everyone is playing all the time. Sometimes you drop points, but this is natural.
“The title race will be very tough now, but I think to fight for top two or three now will be ok. For us, it will be very good.”
While Kraljevic was displeased with the scoreline, the Croatian felt that his side’s performance in the second half deserved the plaudits.
“I am disappointed with the score, but performance wise, I think at the end of the day, we were 1-0 down and we came back to draw 1-1, so not bad to me,” said the 2014 Coach of the Year.
“The season is very long and the players play week in, week out. Sometimes their form drop, but everybody is working hard and trying their best.
“When we won the ball today..moving forward we were a little bit slow and it’s not what we usually do in games.
“At the end of the day, I see it as a point gained. Before the game, I would have been disappointed with a draw, but after the game, I am satisfied with a draw because we grab an equaliser so late.”
Hougang coach Salim Moin expressed his disappointment with how his side gave up their lead to allow Balestier to come back and get a point.
“We were playing so well, but we made some uncharacteristic mistakes,” said Salim.
“Sometimes the players need to depend on their instincts and kick the ball out when they need to. It’s ok to get a corner.
“But sometimes, we overdo things..we do extra things. The worst part is that, when the ball dropped, my players were all ball-watching. We didn’t have the desire to block the shot to prevent the goal.”