News • October 27, 2016
Tigers End League Campaign With A Win
Written by: Darren Ho
Balestier Khalsa wrapped up their 2016 Great Eastern Yeo’s S.League campaign in style with a 2-0 victory over Brunei DPMM at the Toa Payoh stadium on Wednesday night.
Niko Tokic’s industrious display was rewarded with a goal at the start of the second-half before substitute Miroslav Kristic stroked home the Tiger’s second goal to seal the Wasps’ fate in the dying minutes of stoppage time.
Despite ending the Bruneians’ five-game winning streak, the result had no bearing on the S.League standing as Balestier finish the campaign in eighth place, while DPMM took third position.
The result was however against the run of play as it was the visitors who got into their stride first, looking particularly sharp in the early stages.
Paulo Sergio came within inches of putting the Bruneian outfit ahead after five minutes when he sent an angled drive just wide after beating Ahmad Syahir with some tricky moves on the right flank.
A minute later, it was Rafael Ramazotti who had the best chance in the first chance to tuck his side ahead.
Azwan Ali delivered a gorgeous cross into the path of Ramazotti, but the latter could not connect with the delivery, as he misfired the shot high above the crossbar despite being unmarked.
The visitors were then handed a scare in the half-hour mark when Tokic nearly placed the ball into the open net, but was halted by some last ditch defending.
The Croatian striker anticipated an audacious driven cross from Hazzuwan Halim in his own half, before rounding the onrushing Wardun who came off his line. However any effort to take the lead was denied by Brian McLean who was calmly personified in stopping the shot and restarting the play.
The Tigers soon started to find their rhythm, dominating possession and fashioning several chances of their own, despite not really putting a real test on goalkeeper Wardun Yussof.
Kristic was brought on to replace Shah Hirul in the 56th minute and things started to look positive for Marko Kraljevic’s charges.
The substitute was heavily involved in Balestier’s strikeforce thereafter but could have done better when he was presented with a goal-scoring opportunity, but his effort went straight towards DPMM’s custodian Wardun in the 61st minute.
The hosts persistence paid off in the 67th minute when Tokic had the simplest of tap-in, connecting with Hazzuwan’s deep pass from the left-flank.
The home fans were off their seat once again a minute later as Kristic sent his venomous shot just a whisker wide off the top of the bar.
Steve Kean’s side then made two attacking alterations in the 74th minute with the introduction of Adli Said and Shah Razen Said to boost the attack.
Failing to crack down the Tiger’s defence, the Wasps resorted to long ball tactics but were occasionally denied by the offside flag and by the feline reflexes of Zaiful Nizam who deservingly kept a cleansheet for the day.
DPMM continued to pour numbers forward and they paid the price for leaving their defence vulnerable as Balestier eventually capitalised on the exposed backline to double their lead in the 90th minute.
Tan Danial Farhan led the charge in the counter-attack before releasing Kristic in the center for the latter to double the Tigers’ lead and seal the three points.
Balestier Khalsa coach Marko Kraljevic: “I am very pleased with the performance. We have done a really good job against the team (DPMM) that finished top three.
“We worked very hard and defended really well. We waited for our chances and when it came, we put the ball into the net and dominated the game with possession.
“But we never make chances (in the opening half) really. I wanted to open the game and when Miro (Miroslav Kristic) came in, he made the difference and scored the goal.”
Brunei DPMM head coach Steve Kean: “The result probably looks more comfortable with Balestier than it actually was.
“When 1-0, we were chasing for the equaliser and obviously we had to leave it a little open at the back, so I don’t think it was two goals in it. If anything, at least a draw for us will be a fair result.”
Balestier Khalsa: Zaiful Nizam (GK) (C), Fadli Kamis, Nurullah Hussein, Ahmad Syahir, Emir Lotinac, Shah Hirul (Miroslav Kristic 56’), Niko Tokic, Fadhil Noh (Zulkhair Mustaffa 83’), Syafiq Zainal (Syahfuddin Eska 83’) , Tan Danial Farhan, Hazzuwan Halim
Brunei DPMM: Wardun Yussof (GK), Brian McLean, Helmi Zembin, Yura Indera Putera (Shah Razen Said 74’), Azwan Salleh (Maududi Kasmi 46’), Azwan Ali (Adli Said 74’), Paulo Sergio, Hendra Azam, Rosmin Kamis (C), Aminuddin Zakwan, Rafael Ramazotti