League Cup News • June 30, 2016
The New Paper League Cup 2016: Tigers Denied Semis Spot By Late Own Goal
Written by: Shawn Lim
A late own goal by Hanafi Salleh helped Home United come from behind to hold Balestier Khalsa to a 2-2 draw in their The New Paper League Cup 2016 Group B match and send the Tigers crashing out of the competition on Friday night at Toa Payoh Stadium.
Knowing that a point was enough to go through to the semi-finals, the Protectors were contented to sit back and allowed the Tigers, who needed a win, to dominate the match from the off, so it came as no surprise when Niko Tokic fired the hosts into the lead on 28 minutes.
Song Uiyoung then cancelled out the Croatian’s strike to ensure that the both teams went into the break on level terms, but a brilliant Jamil Ali goal helped Balestier reclaimed the lead early in the second-half.
With five minutes left on the clock, it looked like the Tigers had done enough to hang onto victory and qualify for the semi-finals, until Hanafi had no choice but to direct a low and dangerous cross from substitute Sufianto Salleh into his own net with Ken Ilso lurking nearly.
It was a cruel blow for the Tigers, who had came charging out of the blocks and had their first sight of goal with less than a minute into the game when Tokic laid off Jamil’s cross for Ho Wai Loon, whose fierce drive at goal was beaten away by Home custodian Hyrulnizam Juma’at.
Another presentable chance arrived for Balestier courtesy of a Jamil’s corner-kick on 18 minutes, but Fazli Ayob curled a shot into the arms of Hyrulnizam from the edge of the area after taking control of a loose ball when Home failed to clear their lines.
Balestier did find the opener after that though, when Tokic was played through on goal and the Croatian coolly fired the ball past Hyrulnizam, who had came off his line to close the striker down.
The visitors’ response was not to panic and they pulled level three minutes later when Ilso and Song exchanged a quick one-two, before the Dane released the South Korean to score with a clinical finish.
The Tigers should have retaken the lead in the 34th minute when Fazli timed his run well to meet Jamil’s through pass and blasted a shot that went past Hyrulnizam, but not the post.
Camara came close to handing the Protectors the lead three minutes before the interval after cutting inside both Fadli Kamis and Ho in the 18-yard box, but sent his effort over the crossbar.
Home picked up where they had left off after the break and almost went ahead in the 51st minute when Tigers custodian Naqiuddin Nodin catched and then dropped Shamil Sharif’s free-kick, but Camara’s stab at goal rolled narrowly away from goal.
Balestier then pulled ahead against the run of play on 55 minutes when Jamil met Fadli’s cross first time, before lobbing the ball over Hyrulnizam and into the back of the net via the underside of the crossbar.
The hosts continued to probe and could have extended their lead in the 84th minute when substitute Smajovic Sadin launched an effort from 25-yards out, but the Croatian’s shot flew narrowly past the post.
The Tigers had to play with 10 men after that when Fadli could not continue because of an injury as they had used up all their substitutions, and were left exposed at the back when Home counter-attack, resulting in Hanafi stabbing Sufianto’s cross past Naqiuddin and into his own net.
The Protectors could have stolen all three points right at the death when Shamil was played through on goal, but his shot went past Naqiuddin and crashed off the foot of the post.
Home will now face Great Eastern Yeo’s S.League defending champions Brunei DPMM in the semi-finals, while Balestier will take on Hougang United in the Plate semi-final.
Balestier Khalsa coach Marko Kraljevic: “It was very cruel to go out because of an own goal, because the players put up an excellent performance tonight.
“We were 2-1 up and Fadli had to come off, leaving us with 10 men. We got countered after that and scored an own goal, so it was really, really unlucky for us.
“We were the better team, but this is football, the better team don’t always win, so we have to move on from here.”
Home United coach Philippe Aw: “It is very difficult to play on this pitch, especially when it’s raining.
“We were supposed to play at Jalan Besar (Stadium) when the schedule came out and we trained there, so when it was changed to Toa Payoh, it affected how we play.
“We can’t play beautiful football all the time, as much as we tried to, because the pitch made it impossible to move the ball around.”
Balestier Khalsa: Naqiuddin Nodin (GK), Fadli Kamis, Hanafi Salleh, Sheikh Abdul Hadi (C), Ahmad Syahir, Ho Wai Loon, Shah Hirul (Tan Danial Farhan 72′), Fazli Ayob, Jamil Ali (Miroslav Kristic 55′), Syafiq Zainal (Smajovic Sadin 46′), Niko Tokic
Home United: Hyrulnizam Juma’at (GK), Redzwan Atan (Lionel Tan 85′), Juma’at Jantan (C), Sirina Camara, Sim Teck Yi (Sufianto Salleh 57′), Shamil Sharif, Song Uiyoung, Aqhari Abdullah, Syahiran Miswan (Mahathir Azeman 57′), Haziq Azman, Ken Ilso