League Cup: Tigers Seeking Confidence Boost

Prize money and a first-ever trophy for the eventual winners should be enough for both Balestier Khalsa and the Courts Young Lions to play to their full potential in Friday evening’s StarHub Plate Final at Jalan Besar Stadium.

There have been many attempts to play down the significance of the event, appreciating it mostly for another chance for competitive action ahead of the return to the Great Eastern-YEO’S S.League games scheduled from 23 August.

But when the whistle blows, players from both teams are sure to find that extra adrenalin rush needed to spur them on.

S$5,000 in the purse and a plate trophy may not be ‘big bickies’ for some of the more ambitious clubs, but any prize is worth striving for, and after a run of poor results until their Monday triumph over Woodlands Wellington, Balestier will surely not want to slip into any bad habits again.

Tigers coach Darren Stewart was glad of another chance to have his team prepare for their return to league action on 23 August itself, without the worry of finding suitable opponents in friendlies before then.


League Cup: Zulkiffli Goal Extends Tigers Workout

It was meant to be a second lease of life, and it was one that Balestier Khalsa were only too happy to take.

Parachuted into the second-tier plate series of the StarHub League Cup tournament after losing both of their group games, the Tigers got their win on the third try, sinking Woodlands Wellington 1-0 at Toa Payoh Stadium on Monday evening.

Photography by Aundry Gan

The result gives them a chance to collect some silverware come the final on 10 August, although that hardly appeared to entice Balestier coach Darren Stewart, who simply focused on the fact his charges will now get to play another game before the domestic scene goes for a week-long recess.

“I’m happy that we’ve got another game to play now,” said the former Tigers skipper.

“In the first half we sat back, and in the second half we played all out and had a lot of chances to score goals. Unfortunately we couldn’t get more, but I’m pleased with the boys’ performance after how we trained and prepared for this game.

“We are not planning to win this Plate; like I said before, this just feels like a losers’ pool we’re in. We are actually planning to (use the games to) prepare for the league.


League Cup: Geylang Repeat Tigers-Killing Feat

Geylang United gave their small but loyal group of fans something to cheer about on Monday evening when they defeated a jaded-looking Balestier Khalsa side in their StarHub League Cup Group B match at Toa Payoh Stadium.

The 3-1 scoreline, it must be noted, was not in the least flattering for a dominant Eagles outfit on the occasion.

At no stage could the Tigers get a foothold on the game, with key defender Goran Subara unable to play after requiring an MRI scan following a heavy knock a couple of days earlier.

As a consequence of this defeat, Balestier were relegated to playing in the plate series, having also lost in their first game against Albirex Niigata (Singapore).

“We were flat tonight, it was not a good performance from us at all,” said their coach Darren Stewart when it was all over.

“In hindsight I should have started with more fresh players; I underestimated how tired the boys would be after the Albirex game. But all credit to Geylang, as they were fit and rested and on their game.”

Geylang had beaten the Tigers by the same score earlier in the season in a Great Eastern-YEO’S S.League game, and that was something that helped give the Eagles and their coach Kanan Vedhamuthu extra confidence going into this game.

The former national athlete did admit, however, that the Balestier lineup he faced was different from the one he had predicted.

“I expected Goran to play; their defence is generally very strong,” he noted.

“But I also thought we could catch them out down the left-hand side, and that’s how we scored at least one of our goals in the first half.

“All of the foreigners played very well, especially Stefan (Milojevic), who played the balls through for our first and third goals. And our first goal was a brilliant strike by (Jozef) Kaplan.

“We could not play Mun (Seung Man) as he told me before the game that he had a sore eye, so I included Panuwat (Hengthaveephokasub) on the bench. The Prime League boys did very well and those who came on later, even Ishak Zainol, all played their part.

“I hope we can keep this form when we play Albirex on Thursday in our second game, as we want to win or at least draw that match, so we can avoid Tampines (Rovers) in the quarterfinals.”


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