Singapore Premier League • April 2, 2018
Singapore Premier League Preview: Home United FC vs Balestier Khalsa FC
Aqhari Abdullah in action for Home United against Balestier Khalsa last season.
SINGAPORE, 2 APRIL 2018 – Home United FC and Balestier Khalsa FC get their first game of the 2018 Great Eastern-Hyundai Singapore Premier League underway when they play each other at the Bishan Stadium on Wednesday, 4 April. Kick off is at 7.45 pm. There will be a curtain-raiser clash in the form of the West Zone B Division Boys’ football 3rd/4th-placing match between Tanglin Secondary and Juying Secondary at 4pm too!
BACKGROUND Having fallen short of their title aspirations last season, Home saw a number of key players such as Hassan Sunny, Stipe Plazibat and Hariss Harun depart in the off-season.
But surprisingly, they have been performing at a high level in the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) Cup so far, earning seven points in four matches to put themselves in a favourable position to advance from the group stage.
A major reason behind that is the scintillating form of Song Ui-young and Shahril Ishak – both have played a part in seven of the 10 goals. Already in full swing, that may well give Home an advantage here.
On the other hand, Balestier have had a quiet pre-season. They retained the majority of their players from last season with the hope that a settled squad will help them earn a top-half finish this season.
Word from the Balestier camp is that preparations have been going well, although much remains unknown about their two foreign signings – Croatian Vedran Mesec and South African Keegan Linderboom.
In the last 10 meetings between both sides, Home have won six, including all three matches in 2017, compared to just two for Balestier.
TEAM NEWS Abdil Qaiyyim is still weeks away from making a full recovery after tearing his quadriceps and will be a big miss for the Protectors, who have everyone else available for selection. The Tigers, on the other hand, have a fully fit squad.
20/10/17 Home 2-0 Balestier – Singapore Premier League
03/07/17 Balestier 1-2 Home – Singapore Premier League
02/05/17 Home 1-0 Balestier – Singapore Premier League
15/10/16 Balestier 0-5 Home – Singapore Premier League
22/07/16 Balestier 2-2 Home – League Cup
KEEP AN EYE OUT FOR
Song Ui-Young (Home)
Song has been given a free role further forward this year since Plazibat left and that move seems to have worked wonders as he has scored thrice.
The utility player is into his sixth year at Home and while he has established himself as a highly consistent player, it appears that the Korean is set to take his game up by a notch or two. What makes it more impressive is that he has previously been used in a deeper role, tasked to dictate play and control the tempo.
It will be interesting to see how far Song can take his game. Still only 24, it can be said that Song has still not hit his peak.
Raihan Rahman (Balestier)
The midfielder has the capability to pull the strings for Balestier and will be crucial against a Home side packed with options in the middle of the park. Known for his aggressiveness and tough tackling, Raihan has seemingly added more to his game under Marko Kraljevic last year.
One of those added elements is his prowess at set-pieces – many would do well to remember his stupendous free-kick against Brunei DPMM FC last year.
WHAT ELSE THEY SAID
Balestier Head Coach Marko Kraljevic: “Our preparations in the pre-season was good – we signed two foreign players in attack and they have been gelling well with the team. Between now and 2 May, we’ve got seven games and it is very important to start well. The players are confident now and while Home have the advantage of having a few competitive games under their belt, I am very confident we can come away with a good result.”
Home Head Coach Aidil Sharin: “I will be hoping for a good performance from the team. It’s usually very tough when we play against Balestier, hence the boys need to work very hard to get three points out of our first league game.”
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