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[AFC Cup] Tigers ROAR to historic win over Lal Holud

Jonathan Xu (13) opened the account of the evening
By all standards, it wasn't the best display of football in the evening that saw the match delayed by half an hour due to the activation of the Lightning Warning System (LWS), still gloss shall not be taken away that saw a more significant occurrence that took place on the field.

When referee Kao Jung-fang blown to signal the end of the AFC Cup Group F match between Balestier Khalsa and Kingfisher East Bengal, history was made with the hosting Tigers registered their first points in their maiden continental tournament after upset the Kolkata-based club 2-1 at the Jalan Besar Stadium.

After the heartbreaking defeat to Johor Darul Takzim last week, Balestier seems to have put things behind them and took their chances well as early as in the sixth minute when defender Jonathan Xu triggered scoreboard with a screamer from outside.

It was the Toa Payoh-based club that dominated the game for the next half an hour and saw them doubled the score with a strike from Miroslav Kristic in the 19th minute.

Kristic made it 2-0 in 19th minute
Yusiskandar Yusop raised to clear the danger
Latched onto a lob pass from defender Ho Wai Loon, the Balkan marksman made sure he finished off with a textbook ending amid a split backline of the Lal Holud, who were one of the semi-finalists of the tournament back in 2013 and the score remained till the end of the first 45.

The second half restarted with the Indian side took a different approach by playing a more possessive game with short passes coupled with more mobility of their staff on the artificial surface that appeared to be greasy to their liking and saw most of their momentum stumbled in the final third of the surface that mis-cued passing of the possession was a common sight.

Still the perseverances of East Bengal paid off in the 82nd minute when Nigerian striker Dudu Omagbemi finished off with a volley past a hapless Zaiful Nizam, the Tigers' custodian who played the match with a strained groin but his courageous performance between the sticks earned him the "Man-Of-The-Match" accolade.

Zaiful (full) in full control of situation
Hanafi Salleh (second from left) got better ahead in this duel
Dudu Omagbemi (second from left) evaded the attention in the center
A delighted Tigers coach Marko Kraljevic was a happy man when took his place in the post match press conference.

Said the Croatian coach:"I am very happy with the three points and I thought we played well in the first 25 minutes of the game before the opponents closed us down in the second half,

"Overall, the defence played well so did Zaiful, we were confident of holding them and could even score the third goal to finish the game, but it's never easy to play at Jalan Besar and against East Bengal who are the most successful club in India." concluded the former midfielder.

Meanwhile, Zaiful opined the last week's defeat to JDT was the motivation that spurred him and his teammates to do well in this victory.

"I think we were motivated after the 1-0 loss to JDT last week and many people don't believe in us even after we won the RHB (Singapore) Cup (last year), (this win) is good for us as it allows us to catch up with the rest in this group and gave them a good fight as well that we might be able to qualify for the next round if we follow the coach's instructions." said the former Lion City Cup 'keeper whom many seem as a national team material since making his professional debut with Gombak United in 2009.

Coach Schattorie "not impress"
Zaiful "motivated" for this match
However, East Bengal coach Eelco Schattorie was not impressed with the result when sharing his views with the media.

"It was not fantastic when my team gave away the two goals in the first half and saw them (Balestier) defended throughout the game," said the Dutchman who only took over the post in mid-seaon."We changed our game plan in the second half by going all out but we were let down by the amount of missed passes in the game which I don't think the surface is an issue when the opponents also facing the same slippery problem."

"While it was a deserving win for the opponents but I wasn't impress, as we just gave away to them the two goals."

In the another match of the same group in the same evening, Kitchee SC of Hong Kong beat JDT 2-0 in Mongkok to top the group with seven points after three outings.


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