Singapore Premier League • March 1, 2014

Stewart Praises Players’ Performance, Kraljevic Bemoans Park’s Absence


Written By: Muhammad Yazid

Woodlands Wellington coach Darren Stewart was saturated with happiness after his side displayed positivity throughout the 90 minutes in a 1-1 draw with Balestier Khalsa.

“The draw was a fair result. We played very-well-attacking-football, and kept the ball on the ground. We played 50 times better than how we played against Hougang United last week,” Stewart said.

“Why we couldn’t score more was because our final passes were a bit off. Everything went well, from defending with discipline and getting the ball into the final third. But from there, we struggled a little.

“It was a difficult game so my respect goes to all my players.”

The gaffer was up against his former team Balestier, but Stewart dismissed any notions of it having an affect on his preparations.

“It doesn’t matter whether I face my former club or not. Anyway I was only leading Balestier for two years. People forget I was coaching Gombak United for around three years.”

Woodlands custodian Yazid Yasin had fumbled the ball during the game to allow Balestier striker Goran Ljubojevic to stab home from close range, but Stewart was not upset by his goalkeeper’s mistake.

“Yazid will make it up for that 20 times this year. He had a good game by dealing very well with the set-pieces,“ said Stewart.

“I haven’t seen one [goalkeeper] in the world that doesn’t make mistakes. He’s (Yazid Yasin) a player full of character and I’m sure he won’t let it affect him.”

Balestier coach Marko Kraljevic believed that the draw was a fair result, and added that his side were missing their midfielder Park Kang Jin, who was nursing a minor knee injury.

“The draw was fair but a win with a clean sheet would have been nicer.”

“Park Kang Jin’s absence made the difference. Every team has only one playmaker who is irreplaceable and he is the one for our team. I tried Hanafi Akbar in that position today but he wasn’t prepared”, Marko said, “Kim had a very quiet game and that’s probably because Park wasn’t there to connect with him.”

“Our attacking third was lacking something. We didn’t have players who have the extra creativity and can squeeze in the through balls to split open the defense because normal passes are too predictable.”