News • June 2, 2017

Nagaworld Edge Balestier For Quarters Berth


Written by: Phoon Jia Hui

Nagaworld FC joined Boeung Ket FC in the quarter-finals of the RHB Singapore Cup 2017 after a thrilling 4-3 victory over Balestier Khalsa at the Toa Payoh Stadium on Thursday night.

A brace from Hazzuwan Halim was not enough for the Tigers as they fell to a double from George Kelechi as well as a strike each from Atuheire Kipson and Sos Suhana. Raihan Rahman got the other goal for Balestier.

The hosts could have gone ahead after two minutes but defender Sheikh Abdul Hadi scuffed a shot wide off Jonathan Tan’s freekick from the left.

At the other end, Soung Virak came close twice in the space of five minutes as he first saw a left-footed drive saved by Zaiful before his low shot came off the foot of the post.

The deadlock would however be broken in the 14th minute with Kipson pouncing on a loose ball to fire past Zaiful and hand Nagaworld the lead.

Meas Channa’s side doubled their advantage nine minutes later when Kelechi connected with a right-wing cross before sending a looping header past a hapless Zaiful.

Hazzuwan pulled one back for the Tigers on 25th minute as he tapped home from close range after his initial shot was spilled by Samreth Seiha.

Former Albirex Niigata (S) man Kento Fujihara then came to the rescue of Nagaworld just before the half-hour mark, clearing the ball off the line after Raihan Rahman’s freekick threatened to cause problems in the box.

An unmarked Suhana would restore the visitors’ two-goal lead three minutes before half-time when he stabbed home from six yards out following a knockdown from Kipson.

Despite finding themselves behind, Balestier came out of the break looking determined and managed to reduce the deficit in the 56th minute.

After a Nagaworld player was adjudged to have handled in the box, Raihan stepped up confidently to convert the resulting spotkick to give Balestier a glimmer of hope.

But poor defending proved to be the Tigers’ undoing again three minutes later as Kelechi volleyed home after Balestier failed to clear their lines from a cross.

Hazzuwan would get his second of the night in the 67th minute when he curled a shot that flew beyond the reach of Seiha to make it 4-3.

Sensing blood, Balestier head coach Marko Kraljevic threw everything at Nagaworld in the closing stages but their efforts proved futile as the 2014 winners crashed out at the first hurdle.

Balestier Khalsa Head Coach Marko Kraljevic: “I was disappointed with the result, but not with the effort of the players. They played their hearts out throughout the whole game.

“When you start scoring goals, everyone will be confident which is not a bad thing. I don’t like to lose and we have been trying hard but we are just missing that little bit upfront.

“I mentioned to the players that we needed to mark the two strikers tightly. Unfortunately, we lost the marking on a number of occasions as well as the second balls and we were punished.”

Nagaworld FC Head Coach Meas Channa: “It was a tough game for me because the goals came very quickly. After we scored, Balestier also scored and it was very dangerous in the final ten minutes. At two goals up, I didn’t feel that it was enough so we went in search of a third.

“Balestier have players who are skilful and can pump high balls with accuracy. Although they are seventh in the S.League and we are third in the Metfone C-League, the level of football is about the same. Overall, it was a good game against a good opponent today.”

Balestier Khalsa: Zaiful Nizam (GK, C), Fadli Kamis, Ashrul Syafeeq, Sheikh Abdul Hadi, Ahmad Syahir, Hazzuwan Halim, Raihan Rahman, Huzaifah Aziz, Kyaw Zayar Win (Tajeli Salamat 77’), Jonathan Tan (Nanda Linn Kyaw Chit 57’), Aung Kyaw Naing

Nagaworld FC: Samreth Seiha (GK), Leng Makara, Nhim Sovannara, Kento Fujihara, Chheng Meng, Kouch Sokumpheak (C), Kouch Dani (Ngoy Srin 90’), Sos Suhana (Prak Chanratana 90’), George Kelechi, Soung Virak (Khim Borey 74’), Atuheire Kipson