Hazzuwan Halim came to Balestier Khalsa’s rescue with a timely winner as the Tigers edged Geylang International 1-0 on Saturday evening to reach the RHB Singapore Cup semifinal.
The forward won a penalty in the 84th minute after being brought down by Afiq Yunos in the box and he duly dispatched the spot-kick home.
Being able to send the Tigers through to the next round clearly delighted Hazzuwan and he was at a loss for words for his side’s achievement.
“I am really happy, I don’t know what to say. I am really proud of my team and coaches and the supporters that came tonight, I am really blessed so thank you,” Hazzuwan said.
“We deserved the win, we kept attacking and played well. Hopefully we can go all the way now.”
As it was in the first leg which ended 0-0, chances were at a premium at Toa Payoh Stadium in the second leg of this quarterfinal tie.
Hazzuwan’s effort from an acute angle went agonisingly wide in the first minute before Fadli Kamis headed past the post in the 18th minute.
There was a good chance for the opener just before the break, only for Vedran Mesec to fluff his shot from a lovely ball by Huzaifah Aziz.
More scrappy efforts followed after the break, with Zulfadli Zainal Abdin and Hazzuwan hitting hopeful long shots over the bar.
Fairoz Hasan will rue his miss in the 71st minute, as his volley came crashing off the post before Zakir Samsudin experienced the same at the other end after his cross was deflected by Afiq onto the woodwork.
The first shot on target in the game finally arrived in the 83rd minute, with Keegan Linderboom latching onto Hazzuwan’s return pass and lashing at goal but Zainol Gulam stood his ground to ensure the score stayed level.
The only goal of the game arrived moments later, as Hazzuwan struck home the resulting winner.
Balestier then thought they had secured the win in injury time when Sufianto Salleh latched onto Hazzuwan Halim’s through pass and finished off the move but his goal was chalked off after he was adjudged to have been offside.
This proved inconsequential and Balestier will now face either Brunei DPMM or Warriors FC in the semi-finals.
What they said:
Balestier Khalsa FC Head Coach Marko Kraljevic: It was really a tough game, Geylang are really tough opponents. There wasn’t much chances and you can say it was an even game but the penalty was the difference. But I’m really impressed with my boys, they worked hard and when you do that luck follows you, and now we are in the next round.
“We are confident but we will take it step by step and face the next opponents first. The final is a little far away now but playing in the final is a dream. I told my boys it will be full house and it is beautiful.”
Geylang International FC Head Coach Usui Hirotaka: “I cannot say much, because our players played their best and I appreciate them. This result is my responsibility. It was a very difficult game but the players will grow from this. We must improve more definitely.”
Balestier Khalsa FC: Zaiful Nizam (GK) (C), Fadli Kamis, Shaqi Sulaiman, Khalili Khalif (Sufianto Salleh 88’) Hazzuwan Halim, Huzaifah Aziz, Sheikh Abdul Hadi (Nurullah Hussein 49’), Fariz Faizal, Ahmad Syahir, Keegan Linderboom, Vedran Mesec (Zakir Samsudin 72’)
Geylang International FC: Zainol Gulam (GK), Jufri Taha (C), Zulfadli Zainal Abidin, Darren Teh, Azhar Sairudin, Fuad Ramli, Danish Irfan (Cameron Ayrton Bell 62’), Afiq Yunos, Fairoz Hasan, Yuki Ichikawa, Ahmad Zaki (Yeo Hai Ngee 87’)