Balestier Khalsa Head Coach Marko Kraljevic wants his side to salvage some pride for local teams as they take on Brunei DPMM FC on Wednesday evening at Jalan Besar Stadium in the first leg of the RHB Singapore Cup semi-final.
No local clubs have won any domestic silverware since Warriors’ league triumph and Balestier’s Singapore Cup success in 2014.
On the other hand, DPMM and Albirex Niigata FC (S) have been sweeping accolades after accolades, with the White Swans successfully retaining their Singapore Premier League title this season already.
In fact, the last Singapore Cup final featured two foreign clubs, with Albirex beating Global Cebu to retain the trophy for a third season in a row.
Kraljevic could not hide his dismay at the current state of affairs, having been part of the local scene since his Balestier Central days.
“We need to work harder and show the fans that we can be better. It’s not good for foreign teams to be in all the finals all the time,” Kraljevic said.
“We need to raise our game and for our boys to be more competitive.”
The Tigers will have to fight to earn a spot in the season-ending final though, as DPMM demonstrated their might with an eventual 5-0 aggregate win over Warriors FC.
Azwan Ali and Volodymyr Pryyomov were among the goals in DPMM’s last game and Kraljevic have highlighted them as threats to his team’s hopes.
But he believes his side will need little motivation to take the game to the Wasps and put on a show.
“This is a chance for a spot in the final, the boys won’t need much motivation other than that. We are always ready and everyone is looking forward to the game,” he shared.
Rene Weber will have to watch this game from the stands after being sent off in the last round. He otherwise will have a full squad to send out.
Balestier last played two weeks ago so the squad should be well rested for this tie. Noor Akid returns from suspension and is available for selection again.
Brunei DPMM FC: WWWDW
Balestier Khalsa FC: LWDDW
07/07/18: DPMM 2-2 Balestier Khalsa – Singapore Premier League
13/05/18: Balestier 1-2 DPMM – Singapore Premier League
16/10/17: DPMM 1-4 Balestier – Singapore Premier League
21/08/17: Balestier 2-2 DPMM – Singapore Premier League
11/07/17: DPMM 3-0 Balestier – League Cup
KEEP AN EYE OUT FOR:
Azwan Ali (Brunei DPMM FC)
Azwan finally got the monkey off his back with his first goal of the season and it will surely have given him a confidence boost. With Adi Said in red-hot form, many have overlooked his ability to cross from deep but this might prove crucial against the Tigers.
Huzaifah Aziz (Balestier Khalsa FC)
This midfielder has grabbed his chance with both hands to put in some eye-catching displays. He has improved in his finishing and deliveries, which will help to take the burden off forward Hazzuwan Halim, who will surely be under scrutiny from the DPMM defenders.
WHAT ELSE THEY SAID:
Brunei DPMM FC Head Coach Rene Weber: “Always our fight is to play the real football we have. When we play in our way of keeping the ball and using the tactics we have, we win.
“This will be a hard game because they have a good team and two foreigners who are tall and strong in attack. The playoffs are always 50-50 but I believe we can take the lead, because I believe in my team always.”
Balestier Khalsa FC Head Coach Marko Kraljevic: “This is the only thing left for us to fight for; two more games and we are in the final.
“There are no easy teams, as Hougang showed when they held Albirex to a 2-2 draw. This will be a tight game, but we can do it if we work hard.
“Azwan Ali’s crosses, Volodymyr Pryyomov’s striking abilities – DPMM’s attack is very good and we must be very careful.