Balestier secure Singapore Cup, AFC Cup berth
BALESTIER KHALSA 3
(Goran Ljubojevic 15, Kim Minho 28-pen, Park Kang Jin 90)
HOME UNITED 1
(Sirina Camara 90+3 pen)
Balestier Khalsa won more than just the gleaming RHB Singapore Cup trophy and the $100,000 prize money after beating 10-man Home United 3-1 in a thrilling final at the Jalan Besar Stadium last night.
The Tigers also won plaudits for the beautiful passing football in attack and their resolute defence, and credit and respect for consistently beating the so-called bigger teams this season.
This is Balestier's first Singapore Cup win and, with that, they have also earned their first stab at the AFC Cup, an annual international competition among domestic clubs run by the Asian Football Confederation, next year.
The Tigers won the League Cup last season.
Balestier coach Marko Kraljevic said: "I'm very proud because my players showed what they are capable of.
"Why did everyone think Home United were the favourites? For what? We pressured them high up the pitch, scored two goals in the first half, bye bye.
"We defended well and got the third goal, it was simple."
Indeed, in front of 6,175 fans which included President Tony Tan Keng Yam, Balestier were more than a match for six-time winners Home United, who are the most successful club in the competition's history.
Goran Ljubojevic gave the Tigers a 15th-minute lead when he expertly turned and fired a left-footed shot from outside the box into the corner beyond Shahril Jantan.
Kim Minho doubled the advantage from the spot 13 minutes later after he was hacked down by Masrezwan Masturi in the box.
Park Kang Jin put the icing on the cake with the third goal in the 90th minute after the Tigers outnumbered Home United on a fast break following Noh Rahman's sending-off eight minutes earlier for a second bookable offence.
After laying siege on the Home United goal without much success, Sirina Camara finally beat an outstanding Zaiful Nizam with a consolation goal from the spot after he was brought down by Zulkiffli Hassim.
For Kraljevic, the victory was especially sweet as he had played for the Tigers from 1991 to 1993 and from 1996 to 1998.
He said: "When Boss (Balestier chairman S Thavaneson) asked me to take over this season, I didn't think for two seconds before agreeing. So yes, this is very special, to win a trophy in my first year leading a senior team, at a club where I used to play."
While the 49-year-old would like to stay on and continue the good work, he admitted to setting his sights higher.
When asked if this was the best moment in his football career, Kraljevic quipped to laughter in the press conference room: "Not yet."
He added: "I have goals too. Maybe one day I will take over the (Singapore)national team. Why not?
"If I don't have goals, I don't coach.
"You think he (national football coach Bernd Stange) is better? I don't think so.
"I have been in Singapore since 1991, so why not?"
"Why did everyone think Home United were the favourites? For what? We pressured them high up the pitch, scored two goals in the first half, bye bye."
- Balestier coach Marko Kraljevic
- BALESTIER KHALSA: Zaiful Nizam, Jaslee Hatta, Emir Lotinac, Nurullah Hussein, Syed Thaha (Ho Wai Loon 33), Ruhaizad Ismail (Zulkiffli Hassim 68), Poh Yifeng, Park Kang Jin, Ridwan Jamil (Jonathan Xu 62), Kim Minho, Goran Ljubojevic
- HOME UNITED: Shahril Jantan, Masrezwan Masturi, Song Inyoung, Sirina Camara, Juma’at Jantan, Yasir Hanapi (Fazli Ayob 71), Noh Rahman, Izzdin Shafiq (Kwon Dakyung 46), Bruno Castanheira, Lee Kwan Woo, Indra Sahdan (Fazrul Nawaz 51)
- Shots: Balestier 4 on target, 4 off target; Home United 5 on target, 10 off target
- Corners: Balestier 1, Home United 8
- Yellow cards: Balestier 2, (Ruhaizad, Nurullah), Home United 2 (Noh Rahman)
- Red card: Balestier 0, Home United 1 (Noh Rahman)
- Offsides: Balestier 1, Home United 1
- Attendance: 6,175
- Referee: Taqi Jahari
- TNP Man of the Match: Zaiful Nizam (Balestier)
FA CUP FINAL POSTPONED TO TODAY
Due to inclement weather, the Singapore Pools FA Cup 2014 final between Balestier Khalsa FC (Prime League) and Singapore Recreation Club has been postponed to today, 5.30pm, at Jalan Besar Stadium. Entry is free.
Thava wants support for AFC Cup assault
- PHOTO: BH FILE
By winning their first RHB Singapore Cup title last night, Balestier Khalsa will compete in the AFC Cup for the first time next year.
Balestier chairman S Thavaneson is hoping to get more financial support from the Great Eastern-Yeo's S.League so that the Tigers can do well in the competition - an annual international association football competition among domestic clubs run by the Asian Football Confederation.
"I'm certainly proud to win a major trophy after 19 years. It gives me immense satisfaction that the team delivered something that was long overdue for fans," Thavaneson (above) told The New Paper after watching his team lift the RHB Singapore Cup by beating Home United 3-1 yesterday.
"I thought we should have qualified for the Asian club competitions earlier, but things did not go our way.
"How well we can compete will depend on the amount of financial subsidies we get from the AFC.
"As of now, S.League clubs are not subsidised by the Football Association of Singapore for AFC competitions, but I will meet them and discuss about this because the reality is there are heavy financial costs involved."
Thavaneson cited the cost of hosting opponents here, as well as the cost of signing the quality players required to compete at the continental level.
"It has to make financial sense. I have put in $400,000 this season and I may have to find $150,000 more just to play in the AFC Cup.
"We have to strengthen the squad to match the top teams from Japan and South Korea. It will be tough because the best local players are with the LionsXII," he said.
"But let us savour our win first and then we will discuss how to go about this."