Tigers Edge Young Lions To Earn First Points
Written by: Ryan Low
A solitary goal from Myanmarese attacker Aung Kyaw Naing was enough to help Balestier Khalsa edge Garena Young Lions 1-0 at the Toa Payoh Stadium on Sunday night for their first Great Eastern-Hyundai S.League win of the season.
Kyaw Naing missed from the spot in the first-half but redeemed himself after the break with a simple tap-in to help the Tigers claim their first points of the season.
The Tigers started off well, with Kyaw Zayar Win’s long-range free kick parried wide by Young Lions goalkeeper Fashah Iskandar on seven minutes.
The visitors could have drawn first blood on 14 minutes though, with Hami Syahin’s speculative volley from just outside the box flying inches off-target.
Balestier were then awarded a penalty nine minutes later when right-back Fadli Kamis was brought down from a set play, but Kyaw Naing saw his spotkick turned around the post by Fashah.
There were further chances for the Tigers to open the scoring before the break.
Zayar Win however saw another free kick saved by Fashah, before Kyaw Naing somehow headed wide from the former’s teasing left-wing cross.
Balestier coach Marko Kraljevic then summoned Hanafi Akbar to replace Nanda Linn Kyaw Chit for the second-half and the former Youth Olympic Games bronze medallist took a mere eight minutes to make his mark.
His neat lofted pass set up Hazzuwan Halim, who wriggled free down the right byline before setting up Kyaw Naing to convert from unmissable range.
The scorer had another two chances to put the result to bed before the end of the game, but was wasteful on both occasions.
Those missed opportunities could have returned to haunt them deep into injury time when Young Lions midfielder Ammirul Emmran rose the highest to meet a right-wing cross, but Balestier custodian Zaiful Nizam got down low to claw out the goal-bound effort.
Balestier would eventually hang on for the crucial three points, with Young Lions still looking to get off the mark after four games in the season.
Balestier Khalsa Head Coach Marko Kraljevic: “It was a very difficult game, everything went against us including the missed penalty. The boys were under a lot of pressure and it was lucky that we scored the goal in the second half to get the win.
“The strikers’ problem is still there; if we had a good striker, we could have scored two or three tonight. But Hanafi did well after coming on; he only had a few trainings with us but you can see his quality.”
Garena Young Lions Head Coach V Selvaraj: “It’s two different halves out there. Individually, my boys could have done better in the first half. In the second half, we were so much better with the ball and made better decisions.
“After the goal, Balestier started to defend and it was hard to beat their block. I feel that luck’s not on our side; the boys deserved at least one goal tonight. On the bright side, we’re now creating more chances than our first game.”
Balestier Khalsa: Zaiful Nizam (GK, C), Fadli Kamis, Hanafi Salleh, Ashrul Syafeeq, Shah Hirul (Raihan Rahman 63’), Tajeli Salamat (Huzaifah Aziz 69’), Aung Kyaw Naing, Kyaw Zayar Win, Nanda Linn Kyaw Chit (Hanafi Akbar 46’), Ahmad Syahir, Hazzuwan Halim
Garena Young Lions: Fashah Iskandar (GK), Amirul Adli, Shahrin Saberin (C), Ammirul Emmran, Taufik Suparno, Syahrul Sazali (Faizal Roslan 83’), Hami Syahin (Haiqal Pashia 68’), Muhaimin Suhaimi, Jordan Chan (Zulqarnaen Suzliman 60’), Rusyaidi Salime, Muhelmy Suhaimi