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[RHB Singapore Cup] Fitness is the key that saw Protectors outmuscled the Jaguars

Off to Asia again with this Cup win by Home United
Should we say the emphasis on match fitness by Home United coach Lee Lim Saeng paid off with that emphatic display which shredded Tanjong Pagar United apart in the RHB Singapore Cup final?

Just days ago a friend of mine suggested that the Protectors are the fittest side among the S. League clubs with the tough regime imposed by the former Korean international since his arrival at Bishan-based club three years ago.

All it took was two quick set-pieces goal in the early stages of the first half to inflict the damages on their opponents to set the momentum right for Home United to wrap up their second Cup win under Coach Lee with a convincing 4-1 scoreline.

Shahril Jantan won the Cup two-on-a-roll
Seemingly agree with opening notion, Home United 'keeper Shahril Jantan offered his thoughts to this blogger after the match.

Said the decorated custodian:"I think that this team is fitter as compared to the previous teams I played for,

"We had a very tough pre-season training tour in Korea that we run a lot to build up our fitness level in Jeju island."

"However, we did not forget the tactical side of our game since the coach emphasizes a lot of pressing football that requires a lot of fitness." added the former SAFFC skipper.

First blow delivered in the 13th minute by Sirina Camara 
Hafiz Rahim (left) laid the cross over for Home's third goal in 27th minute
Nonetheless despite the Cup success, the 33-year-old opined that it's a pity that the team hit their form late in the season and eventually lost out on challenging for the league title this season which remains elusive after Englishman Steve Darby last delivered to them in 2003.

Said Shahril:"It's just that we hit the 'fifth gear' too late in the season (for us to challenge for the title) but it shows towards the end of the season we can play high-energy level of football."

Echoed the similar sentiment in the post-match press conference, Coach Lee pledged his target next season would be the S.League title.

Monsef Zerka (right) was shadowed everywhere he went
Jaguars simply found it tough going 
"I hope to win the (league) championship next season and I want to make new history with the players." said the 42-year-old former Suwon Samsung Bluewings assistant coach.

Reviewing the match itself, the Korean lauded the efforts shown by his boys, not just on the last evening win but also of the whole season.

"We had worked hard this season and especially we got the result we need tonight." said Coach Lee.

Already three-nil up at half time, the instruction to his team was to continue with attacking football which Coach Lee explained to the media.

Coach Lee (right) with Jaguars' John Wilkinson (16) after the match
"I told my players at half time that we must keep the possession and keep attacking (despite the lead), as people come to the stadium to watch attacking football not defensive football."

Having lost out on becoming the first man to achieve "Triple-Crown" in Singapore football, Tanjong Pagar United coach Patrick Vallee was not disappointed with the washout last night, rather he felt the Jaguars' season had fulfilled with the achievements the club had targeted in the first place.

"It is not the worst performance tonight," said the silver-haired coach in defending his side's less-than-desired outing.

Coach Vallee not disappointed as Jaguars met their targets
"I think the team had achieved a lot this season like we targeted a top-six finishing at the end of the season and a quarter-final spot in the Singapore Cup which we made it to the final that I can't ask for more.

"And I think what is important in football is we must not forget what is our first objective." added the former Etoile FC coach that steered the French squad to a League and League Cup double back in 2010.

Following this result, Home United will be representing Singapore in next season AFC Cup tournament with their most recent showing in 2012 that saw they made it to the round of 16.