Singapore Premier League • March 22, 2014

Marko: Park’s Injury A Big Loss for Balestier


Written by: Khalis Rifhan

Balestier Khalsa coach Marko Kraljevic lamented the absence of influential midfielder Park Kang Jin in their 1-0 loss to Albirex Niigata (S), as he felt the Korean could have made a difference and prevented the Tigers’ first defeat in the 2014 Great Eastern Yeo’s S.League campaign.

Park was out due to a knee injury but the timing of his unavailability made preparations difficult for Marko who had to scramble and make changes to his tactical plans against the White Swans.

“There is no excuse but a day before the game I found out Park can’t play so everything change. But the players worked very hard. We closed down defence and did not let them go through goal,” said Marko.

Continuing his affection for the creative South Korean player, Marko said; “When we win possession we are not able to keep it and this is a bit of problem. Park can hold the ball. It is not easy to play against Albirex. If you look at statistics, they always have more than 60% of the possession.”

“It is not easy to find this kind of player, he can give key passes. The boys worked extremely hard but we don’t have this extra without him,” added Marko.

For Marko’s opposite number, Tatsuyuki Okuyama, he was pleased that his team was back to winning ways after going down 3-1 to Hougang United a week ago.

“Winning 1-0 is good. But our players are worried about it,” said Okuyama when ask whether his team should have been more clinical in front of goal.

While Kazuki Sakamoto scored his third goal of the season, Okuyama blamed the pitch at Jalan Besar Stadium and the Tigers tight defence.

“He (Sakamoto) could not adjust for tonight’s game because of the pitch at Jalan Besar. He could not move as a group as Balestier was defensive after he scored the goal,” explained Okuyama.

Balestier will next face Warriors Football Club on 28 March and Marko hopes his midfield maestro will be fit in time for the crucial tie against the eight-time S.League champions.

“He will see the doctor tomorrow (Saturday) for another medical check-up. This guy is everything but we must learn to live without him, it is all mental. Somebody else must take responsibility in his position,” commented the former Jurong Football Club player.