Balestier hang tough to make Singapore Cup semi-finals
Balestier advance to last four as goalkeeping error floors Home
QUARTER-FINAL, 2ND LEG
HOME UNITED 2
(Khairul Nizam 10, Ken Ilso 55)
BALESTIER KHALSA 2
(Niko Tokic 33, 59)
- Balestier go through 4-3 on aggregate
The equation was simple for Balestier Khalsa last night.
Preserve their lead from Monday's first-leg victory and qualification to the semi-finals of the RHB Singapore Cup would be assured.
And that was exactly what the Tigers did at the Bishan Stadium, where they held Home United to a 2-2 draw in their quarter-final, second leg clash, winning 4-3 on aggregate.
Balestier coach Marko Kraljevic was understandably pleased with the result, but admitted that Home were unlucky on the night.
"We had the advantage coming into this game and we expected them to attack from the start, which they did and they got the first goal," the German-born Croat said, after the match.
"Second half, they continued putting pressure on us and scored again, but we did well to equalise twice... I am happy and I hope we can go all the way, but Home were unlucky because they missed a lot of chances."
The Toa Payoh-based outfit have built up a reputation of being a side with cup pedigree, winning the League Cup in 2013, lifting the RHB Singapore Cup in 2014 and reaching the final of The New Paper League Cup last year.
They showed why they are cup specialists last night, albeit with a slice of luck.
Khairul Nizam levelled the aggregate score for the Protectors with his close-range finish in the 10th minute and the home side piled on the pressure, with the Singapore international going close when he blasted his shot over in the 32nd minute.
Kraljevic's side did not waver, though, and struck a minute later.
Croatian frontman Niko Tokic rose highest to power home Jamil Ali's lofted delivery off a corner to level the score 1-1 and give his team a 3-2 lead on aggregate.
Home regrouped after the interval and reasserted their dominance, drawing level again in the 55th minute, when Ken Ilso curled home an exquisite effort from substitute Shamil Sharif's cut-back.
But Tokic restored Balestier's lead four minutes later after a howler by Home custodian Zulfairuz Rudy. Tokic was allowed to run through on goal, before firing a tame effort at Zulfairuz, who let the ball slip through his grasp.
It proved to be the decisive strike as Balestier hung on to seal their progress to the semi-finals.
Home coach Philippe Aw did not mince his words when addressing their goalkeeping problem.
"We lost in only one department today and that was goalkeeping. Other than that, our outfield players were superb," he said.
"There was only one team today and when you are dominating and you concede easy goals from goalkeeping errors, it's very tough for the team. This is one area that we have to improve on once we are back on the training ground."
- HOME UNITED: Zulfairuz Rudy, Juma'at Jantan (Sufianto Salleh 74), Zulfahmi Arifin, Abdil Qaiyyim, Redzwan Atan, Ambroise Begue, Syahiran Miswan (Haziq Azman 70), Aqhari Abdullah, Azhar Sairudin, Khairul Nizam (Shamil Sharif 41), Ken Ilso
- BALESTIER KHALSA: Zaiful Nizam, Fadli Kamis, Sheikh Abdul Hadi, Emir Lotinac, Hanafi Salleh, Jamil Ali (Ahmad Syahir 75), Gary Loo, Tan Danial Farhan, Fadhil Noh (Zulkiffli Hassim 60), Syafiq Zainal (Smajovic Sadin 54), Niko Tokic
- TNP Man of the Match: Niko Tokic (Balestier)