Singapore Premier League • August 1, 2014

Tigers Stay In Race For Top-six Finish


Written By: Kenneth Ho

Seventh-placed Balestier Khalsa kept alive their faint hopes of a top-six finish in the league after a 2-1 win over Geylang International at Jalan Besar Stadium on Thursday evening.

Zulkifli Hassim settled matters for the Tigers with a strike in the 68th minute, as they now sit six points adrift of six-placed Hougang United, although the Cheetahs do have a game in hand.

It was a game of two halves in this encounter, as the first half witnessed a tight and cagey affair, while the second proved more open.Balestier had the first sight of goal only in the 22nd minute when Muhaymin Salim found himself with only the goalkeeper to beat, but he squandered the chance by skewing his shot wide.

Immediately, Geylang responded with a quick counter of their own, but Hafiz Nor was denied by Balestier goalkeeper Zaiful Nizam as the latter punched away a shot which was heading towards the top corner.

Mustaqim Manzur and Syed Thaha then saw half-chances miss the post for their respective sides, before Balestier grabbed the opener in the 41st minute.

Latching onto a long ball from Muhaymin, Kim Minho promptly took a touch before sending a toe-poke past the onrushing Joey Sim to give Balestier the lead going into the break.

With the fixture far from being settled, both sides came out at the restart looking more determined.

Geylang probed and finally managed to test Zaiful in the 57th minute when Hafiz Nor hit a pile-driver towards goal, but the aforementioned goalkeeper did well to push it out for a corner.

That resulted in the equaliser for the Eagles just a minute later, as Leonel Felice forced a save out of Zaiful from the ensuring set-piece, and the rebound fell for Kento Fukuda to stab home from close range.

Goran Ljubojevic could have restored the lead for Balestier immediately, but Khairulnizam Jumaat cleared his header off the line.

The Croatian then curled a low shot wide of the post on the hour mark, as his side sought to regain the advantage.

To add more impetus to their attack, Geylang sent on Aliff Shafaein and the attacker made Zaiful work with a testing free kick minutes after coming on.

The Eagles custodian Sim was then called on to parry away a firm header by Kim, after the latter met Ahmad Syqhir’s cross from the left in the 67th minute.

Zulkifli, who had came on in the 62nd minute, then worked with Ljubojevic to make a one-two play in the box to thump an effort which bulged the back of the Geylang’s net.

Joey Sim had to be on his toes seven minutes from time as he stretched to make a one-handed save from Tajeli’s 25-yard dipping shot.

As time ran out, the Eagles became more urgent in their play and it nearly paid off in injury time when Fuad Ramli found himself free in the danger area, but Zaiful tipped his rasping shot onto the post to deny Geylang a share of the spoils.