News • September 23, 2016
Syafiq’s Spectacular Late Strike Helps Tigers Rescue A Point
Written by: Shawn Lim
A spectacular strike from substitute Syafiq Zainal three minutes from time helped Balestier Khalsa come from behind to snatch an unlikely 1-1 draw with Warriors FC at Toa Payoh Stadium on Thursday night.
The visitors looked on course to claim all three points after Jonathan Behe had given them the lead, but Syafiq, who had came on to play on the wing before moving upfront to replace the injured Miroslav Kristic, slammed home his first goal of the season to equalise for the hosts.
The Tigers, who started with a makeshift defence that saw Fadhil Noh filling in at right-back and Shah Hirul at centre-back, had their first sight at goal on three minutes when Kristic charged down Warriors’ custodian Yazid Yasin’s clearance, but saw his shot cannoned off the foot of the near post.
The rebound then fell to Niko Tokic, but the striker inexplicably slammed the ball high and wide six yards out from a gaping goalmouth.
That proved to be the last piece of action for Tokic, as the Croatian went down clutching his knee after a challenge five minutes later and had to be replaced by Smajovic Sadin.
After surviving that early scare, Warriors had the better chances with Behe forcing Tigers custodian Zaiful Nizam into a save after being allowed to run into the box unchallenged on 11 minutes, before the goalkeeper blocked Poh Yi Feng’s fierce drive minutes later.
Yazid made up for his earlier mistake on 24 minutes when he pulled off a brilliant save to push away Sadin’s piledriver from the edge of the 18-yard box that looked destined for the top corner.
The chances kept coming for the visitors as Nikola Rak’s 20-yards drive flashed narrowly wide of the mark, before Hafiz Nor’s effort from an acute angle crashed off the underside of the crossbar.
Rak’s fruitless quest to get on the scoresheet continued as his curling effort from just outside the box on 37 minutes was punched away by Zaiful and the ball was cleared before Behe could pounced on the loose ball.
Balestier’s inexperienced defence were starting to creak under the strain of mounting Warriors’ pressure and when Behe made a sharp turn in the 18-yard box on the stroke of half-time, he was brought down by Nurullah Hussein.
The Frenchman then dusted himself down to take the resulting penalty and sent Zaiful the wrong way with a low shot into the left bottom corner.
Balestier coach Marko Kraljevic felt a change was needed at the break and brought on Syafiq for Danial Tan Farhan immediately after the break in hopes of finding the equaliser.
However, it was the visitors who restarted the match brightly and they could have doubled their lead on 49 minutes when Shaiful Esah whipped in a sumptuous free-kick that had Zaiful beaten, but saw the ball crashed off the frame of the goal.
Syafiq then spurned two glorious opportunity to pull his side level when he chose to go for glory instead of passing to Jamil who was in an unmarked position, which resulted in Yazid blocking his effort, before heading the ball into the post after meeting Jamil’s cross on 77 minutes.
The striker did not let his head drop after the misses, however, and repaid his coach’s faith by pulling the Tigers level 10 minutes later with a beautiful curler from outside the box that found the top corner of the net.
Balestier Khalsa coach Marko Kraljevic: “Syafiq deserved the goal because he has been working very hard and I told him one day it will pay off.
“If you asked me before the game, I would not have been happy with a draw, but after losing Kristic and Tokic, I am happy that we managed to get a draw.”
Warriors FC coach Razif Onn: “Towards the end of the game, fatigue set in and we lost concentration, so anything can happen in such situations.
“We took very long to settle into the game as well, almost 25 minutes, before we started playing our game. We had a couple of chances to score more in the second-half, but we didn’t took it.”
Balestier Khalsa: Zaiful Nizam (GK) (C), Nurullah Hussein, Ho Wai Loon, Shah Hirul, Fazli Ayob, Hazzuwan Halim, Tan Danial Farhan (Syafiq Zainal 46′), Jamil Ali, Fadhil Noh, Miroslav Kristic, Niko Tokic
Warriors FC: Yazid Yasin (GK) (C), Zulfadli Zainal, Hafiz Osman, Kento Fukuda, Shaiful Esah, Poh Yi Feng, Syaqir Sulaiman, Ridhuan Muhamad, Nikola Rak, Hafiz Nor, Jonathan Behe