Rejuvenated Tigers Entertain Young Lions
Balestier Khalsa vs Garena Young Lions
(Sunday, 2 April, 7.30pm, Toa Payoh Stadium)
Written by: Phoon Jia Hui
Balestier Khalsa and Garena Young Lions will face off at the Toa Payoh Stadium on Sunday night as the two sides continue the search for their first points in the Great Eastern-Hyundai S.League.
Along with Brunei DPMM, the aforementioned teams remain the only ones without a point in the league after three rounds of matches.
In the recent international break, 19 members from the Young Lions side were away with the Singapore Under-22 squad which were involved in the Dubai Cup. They include the likes of goalkeeper Zharfan Rohaizad, Amirul Adli as well as Ryan Syaffiq.
Speaking ahead of the game, Balestier head coach Marko Kraljevic shared that preparations have been going well.
He added: “I will have Nanda (Linn Kyaw Chit) who did not play in the last game (against Tampines Rovers) available for selection again. He’s a good player and hopefully with the return of goalkeeper Zaiful Nizam (from international duty), everything will be fine.”
After three straight defeats however, Kraljevic admits his team’s failure to find the net as a concern and he certainly has a point.
After all, the Tigers have only scored once this season and it came from a penalty which midfielder Raihan Rahman put away in their league opener against Warriors FC.
“I think we can do much much better,” Kraljevic said.
“We managed to create the chances in every game and I believe we can score but the finishing in the 18 yard box has left much to be desired.
“People might think that the players are losing a bit of confidence but I see that they are doing alright. We have not been outplayed by any opponents and I believe that if we keep things tight at the back, we can keep a clean sheet and we should also be able to score (at the other end as well).”
Against a Young Lions team whom Kraljevic feels have the ability to surprise, the Croatian has warned against underestimating their younger counterparts.
“I’m not too sure about them, this team has players who are versatile and are very young. In fact, the youngest team in the league,” Kraljevic noted.
“They need some time to (get used to) playing in the professional league but if you give them too much space, they can be dangerous (and hurt you).”
With the suspension of centre-back Sheikh Abdul Hadi, it is likely that former Young Lion Ashrul Syafeeq will fill in and Kraljevic believes the 23-year-old is ‘good enough’ for the team.
“In some games, we play with three at the back - Ashrul, Hadi and Hanafi (Salleh). We played with a back four in our last game and I had no choice to leave one player out and Ashrul was the unlucky one but he is definitely as good as the rest (of his teammates),” he added.
Suspension: Sheikh Abdul Hadi (Balestier Khalsa)
Garena Young Lions - LLLLL
11/03/17 Hougang United 2-0 Garena Young Lions
04/03/17 Garena Young Lions 0-5 Albirex Niigata (S)
27/02/17 Home United 6-1 Garena Young Lions
15/10/16 Garena Young Lions 1-3 Tampines Rovers
30/09/16 Home United 5-2 Garena Young Lions
Balestier Khalsa - WLLLL
11/03/17 Balestier Khalsa 0-1 Tampines Rovers
04/03/17 Geylang International 2-0 Balestier Khalsa
28/02/17 Balestier Khalsa 1-2 Warriors FC
29/10/16 Balestier Khalsa 1-2 Ceres-Negros (Singapore Cup)
26/10/16 Balestier Khalsa 2-0 Brunei DPMM
Head to Head (S.League)
05/08/16 Garena Young Lions 1-3 Balestier Khalsa
21/04/16 Balestier Khalsa 2-0 Garena Young Lions
14/02/16 Garena Young Lions 1-0 Balestier Khalsa
31/07/15 Garena Young Lions 2-2 Balestier Khalsa
04/04/15 Balestier Khalsa 5-1 Garena Young Lions