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Tigers missing the spark from Park

The match ended 1-1 (picture source)
Balestier Khalsa's coach Marko Kraljevic did not hide his disappointment for not having his playmaker Park Kang Jin on the field earlier.

"I'm not happy because I missed my playmaker (Park)," said Coach Kraljevic in his post match media briefing.

"He suffered some knocks in our last game against (Courts) Young Lions, we did try to get him ready for tonight and he had taken painkillers yesterday, but he is still not fit which I think he should ok for the next two, three days." updated the Croatian coach on the 25-year-old's condition.

The absence of the Korean midfielder was clearly in evidence in the Tigers' one-all draw with Woodlands Wellington at the Jalan Besar Stadium with their marquee signing Goran Ljubojevic left largely isolated upfront unable to get the much-needed service to work his wonder in the box.

Hanafi still has a long way to go (file picture)
By deploying former Youth Olympics (YOG) midfielder Hanafi Akbar in place of Park didn't reap any result and had the 19-year-old youngster replaced with another Prime League player Ahmad Syahir midway through the match.

"I tried Hanafi today, obviously he's not ready for the role," assessed Coach Kraljevic on the teenage prodigy's performance, "We need someone who can pass and split the defence and tonight we were lacking someone with the creativity and I felt we should have done better in the attacking third."

"Nonetheless, I am happy with the hard work shown by the team and I think it's fair result." he added.

With the missing creativity on the field, the match was largely a scrappy affair with tough plays dominated much of the limelight that referee Sukhbir Singh had to reach for his pocket to keep things under control on several occasions.

Goran Ljubojevic (file picture)
The deadlock was finally broken in the second half when Woodlands' custodian Yazid Yazin was guilty for the misjudgment at the near post and allowed the ball off a deflected clearance landed on the path of Ljubojevic to see the Croatian tap into the empty net in the 67th minute.

"I will never criticize him (Yazid) or anyone for that (goal by Ljubojevic)," said Woodland's coach Darren Stewart after the match on the misjudgment by the veteran goalkeeper.

"Goalkeepers do make mistakes and we can see after that goal, he came out three, four times to pluck those corners." added the former Australian international in lauding the quick recovery of nerves by the 34-year-old stalwart.

The designated hosts did not wait for long to equalize the scores and when they did, it was another goal worthy for a nomination for the "Goal of the Year" award.

Balestier's Coach Kraljevic shares his thought after match
A curler from the edge of the box on the left by the former Balestier player Chang Jo Yoon in the 73rd minute left Tigers' keeper Zaiful Nizam no chance but to pick the ball out of the net to restart the match.

Sharing the same thoughts with his counterpart, the Rams' tactician felt it was a fair result for both.

Said Coach Stewart:"It was a fair result and I am pleased that we played well by keeping the ball on the ground with good attacking football,"

"We did well defensively by keeping the Balestier's big boy at the bay and although we are beginning to click as a team, I felt our passing in the final third was a bit off and giving away too many free kicks around the box."


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