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[Singapore Cup] Tigers broke the "Domination" with an emphatic 3-1 win over Home United

Zaiful (yellow jersey) dominated the play in his box
Zaiful (yellow jersey) dominated the play in his box

Just like how he did in the semifinals that aided Balestier Khalsa to the RHB Singapore Cup final after knocking out Tampines Rovers on penalties, custodian Zaiful Nizam is the Tigers' star of the night again.

The former Lion City Cupper put up another stellar performance for the Toa Payoh-based club in front of 6,000 at the Jalan Besar Stadium to beat defending holders Home United 3-1 to clinch the side's second honour for the consecutive season (Balestier were the League Cup winners last year).

Staying true to the spirit of any Cup fixture, the designated home side did not sit back to allow their neighbours across Braddell Road to take any advantage of having a more potent frontline that would win any game on their day.

Sadly though, the night did not belong to the Protectors who were left frustrated for much of the game, not just because of Zaiful's heroics, but also due to the well-marshalled backline led by Emir Lotinac in the absence of Kiwi Paul Cunningham.

Goran Ljubojevic heads a clearance
Goran Ljubojevic heads a clearance

With the two-goal lead (Goran Ljubojevic in the 14th minute, which was followed by Kim Min Ho's successfully converted from the spot in the 27th minute) before the interval, Balestier were right on track as predicted by coach Marko Kraljevic who claimed the artificial turf has always allowed his men to play well this season.

When the play resumed in the second half, the Protectors turned their heat on to the Tigers' backline by dominating much of the action in the latter half, which they knew it too well that a three-goal advantage would be a much safer cushion that eventually arrived in the 89th minute through Park Kang Jin amid the shredded defence in the Home's box.

It was another spot-kick in the stoppage that allowed the deficit to be reduced when Sirina Camara placed the ball to Zaiful's left to pull one back before referee Muhd Taqi Jahari signalled the end of the proceedings.

Home United (red) struggled in Tigers' box
Home United (red) struggled in Tigers' box

Came on as a substitute in the second half, Jonathan Xu relished the moment of collecting his second Cup winners' medal (he picked up his first medal back in 2009 with Geylang United).

Said the former Tanjong Pagar United defender: "Every final is very different and it's something special, and I felt that we pressed Home United right from the start and I attributed this victory to the tremendous team spirit we have that is something unbelievable."

Meanwhile, "Man-of-The-Match" Zaiful dedicated the accolade to his wife and his to-be-born baby

"In this game, it's the desire we want to win the Cup and this match against a big team like Home United is something like a derby match for us and I would also like to dedicate this (Man-of-The-Match) award to my wife and my baby, who is due in December."

Jonathan Xu holds the Cup for the second time
Jonathan Xu holds the Cup for the second time 

Having won the ticket to next season's AFC Cup tournament, it's undoubtedly every player's dream to play in the continental's second-tier club tournament that had only seen the likes of Tampines Rovers, Home United and Warriors (as SAFFC) represent the Republic in the recent years.

Thus the burning question would be how is the club getting ready for the challenge?

"Let us savour this victory at this moment," said Balestier's chairman Mr S Thavaneson when the question was posed to him by this blogger.

"To participate in this tournament (AFC Cup), it requires a big financial funding on top of having to field a strong team and I think we will discuss this issue in days to come."

The Tigers collected the Cup from President Tony Tan
The Tigers collected the Cup from President Tony Tan

Nonetheless, it was a significant moment for the club, as pointed out by the veteran club administrator.

"It's very significant for us to win the Cup because we are one of the founding members of the S.League and also one of the senior teams since the semi-professional days,

"I believed we deserved this victory because everyone in the club, the players, the coaches, the fans worked very hard for it and also because I was confident of the tactic that was well executed which many would expect us to 'park the bus' for this match."


  1. The remarks by Mr Thavaneson after the match had protruded the problem facing most S.League clubs these days - sound financial footing.

    I feel that for a long time, the clubs have been depending on the "seed monies" given out to by the league authority since day one.

    After all, those "seed monies" should be seen as a mere subsidy that is to be a small part of the annual budget of each club and the sadly though, nothing much has changed since 1996 when come to fund sourcing and self-reliance.

    If things are already on the track for all, we wouldn't see the sad state of the fraternity today.


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