Tigers Wary Of Wasps’ Threat
Balestier Khalsa vs Brunei DPMM
(Friday, 7 April, 7.30pm, Jalan Besar Stadium)
Written by: Shawn Lim
Balestier Khalsa will take on Brunei DPMM at the Jalan Besar Stadium on Friday night as both clubs look to kickstart their 2017 Great Eastern-Hyundai S.League campaign.
Both clubs have registered just one win this season and have found goals hard to come by, with DPMM only finding the back of the net thrice and the Tigers only twice.
The Tigers halted their three-game losing streak after grinding out a 1-0 victory over Garena Young Lions in their last game.
According to centre-back Ashrul Syafeeq, it was a result which gave the team a much-needed shot in the arm.
“The win definitely gave us confidence because we lost the first three matches, which I felt we could have at least come out with something,” said the 23-year-old.
“Everyone is now motivated for the next game. We know we got to keep improving and stay level-headed.”
Similarly, DPMM put behind their losses to Albirex Niigata (S) and Home United as they returned to winning ways with a 2-0 victory over Hougang United in Bandar Seri Begawan.
While Ashrul is cautious about underestimating Steve Kean’s charges despite their poor form, he is optimistic that the Tigers can spring a surprise on Friday night.
“It's going to be tough playing against them but I think it's the best time especially after having won your last game which definitely lifted the team spirit,” explained Ashrul.
Echoing Ashrul’s sentiments was Balestier coach Marko Kraljevic, who believes that DPMM are still a quality side and the Tigers will have to work doubly hard to prevent a defeat to the Wasps.
“Even though they have only one win like us, I won’t say we are evenly-matched because they have been really unlucky in their games,” the German-born Croatian explained.
“I watched their games against Home and Albirex, and I felt they were very unlucky to lose those games so I think they are the favourites for this game.
“The win against Young Lions gave us confidence, which is important, because when you lose games, the players lose confidence as well. Now, they are smiling and enjoying themselves, which is all part of football.
“We have to stop their front three of Azwan (Ali), (Rafael) Ramazotti and Billy (Mehmet) because they are very dangerous. If we can do that, half of the job is done.”
Another reason for the change of mood in the Tigers’ camp is the arrival of former Youth Olympic Games Bronze medalist Hanafi Akbar, who has added creativity to Balestier’s midfield.
The 22-year-old came on at half-time in the Tigers’ win against Young Lions, starting off the move that led to his team’s winner.
“I’m really excited to play with Hanafi because I have seen him play previously when I was in the NFA (National Football Academy) where he performed tremendously well,” Ashrul enthused. “He gives us that extra quality and can change the game once he is on form.”
While Kraljevic feels that it is still too soon for Hanafi to start a game, the coach confirmed that the midfielder will play a part on Friday night, albeit off the bench.
“I don’t think Hanafi is ready to start a game yet because he just finished National Service and will need more game time,” Kraljevic explained.
“But he will play a part in the game against DPMM and depending on how the game goes, I might need him earlier.”
Suspension: Sheikh Abdul Hadi (Balestier Khalsa)
Balestier Khalsa - LLLLW
02/04/17 Balestier Khalsa 1-0 Garena Young Lions
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 FC (Singapore Cup)
Brunei DPMM - WLLLW
02/04/17 Brunei DPMM 2-0 Hougang United
09/03/17 Albirex Niigata 2-0 Brunei DPMM
03/03/17 Brunei DPMM 1-3 Home United
26/10/16 Balestier Khalsa 2-0 Brunei DPMM
01/10/16 Tampines Rovers 0-1 Brunei DPMM
Head to Head (S.League)
26/10/16 Balestier Khalsa 2-0 Brunei DPMM
24/06/16 Balestier Khalsa 1-4 Brunei DPMM
15/04/16 Brunei DPMM 3-1 Balestier Khalsa
21/11/15 Brunei DPMM 4-0 Balestier Khalsa
29/08/15 Balestier Khalsa 2-1 Brunei DPMM