Tigers limp out of Singapore Cup
|BALESTIER KHALSA FC||NAGAWORLD FC|
|(Hazzuwan Halim 25, 67, Raihan Rahman 56-pen)||(Atuheire Kipson 14, George Kelechi 23, 59, Sos Suhana 42)|
S.League side Balestier Khalsa crashed out of the RHB Singapore Cup following a 4-3 loss to Cambodian side Nagaworld FC in the preliminary round at the Toa Payoh Stadium last night.
Balestier are the second S.League side to be eliminated from the annual cup competition.
Last Monday, Warriors FC lost 4-1 to Boeung Ket AngKor FC at the same stage at Choa Chu Kang Stadium.
Speaking at the sidelines after the match, Balestier head coach Marko Kraljevic looked a dejected figure, but refused to point the finger at his players.
The German-born Croat said: "We played our hearts out the entire game right from the first minute, but we were punished by their forwards (George Kelechi and Atuheire Kipson).
"I was disappointed with the result, but not with the players. I can't blame anyone in the team.
"It wasn't easy. My boys worked really hard. Even when we were 2-0 down, we didn't give up."
Nagaworld started the game brightly and took the game to Balestier.
By the end of the first half, the Cambodian outfit were 3-1 up, through strikes from Kipson, Kelechi and Sos Suhana.
The Tigers' solitary first-half goal came in the 25th minute via Hazzuwan Halim who finished off a rebound after Nagaworld custodian Samreth Seiha had saved his initial shot.
Balestier earned themselves a lifeline in the 56th minute when Raihan Rahman converted from the penalty spot.
But, Kelechi restored the visitors' two-goal advantage three minutes later by burying a shot past Balestier goalkeeper Zaiful Nizam.
The hosts, however, reduced the deficit once more in the 67th minute, after Hazzuwan caught the Cambodian side's goalkeeper off his line. However, it turned out to be nothing more than a consolation goal for the Tigers.
Nagaworld's head coach Meas Channa was all smiles at the final whistle, as his team are now in the quarter-finals of the competition.
He said: "Balestier were a very tough team to play. Their players were quick and skilful.
"In the last 10 minutes, they were dangerous and threatened to equalise.
"Overall, it was a good game today, we were very aggressive and put up a very tough showing."