By Gabriel TanFollow @@gabetan13
The Tigers are now one win away from claiming the first piece of silverware in their history following Monday evening's semi-final victory over the White Swans at the Jurong East Stadium, which came courtesy of Park Kang-jin's clinical strike in the 12th minute.
Balestier will now meet either defending champions DPMM FC or Woodlands Wellington, who meet in the other last-four clash on Tuesday, in Saturday's final, where another victory would mark a momentous occasion for the club.
While bringing a trophy to the Toa Payoh Stadium would be another impressive feat in a fast-growing list that Stewart has achieved since taking over at the club at the start of last season, he has chose to focus the attention away from himself and challenged his players to win the League Cup for themselves, as well as chairman S. Thavaneson.
"From the bottom of my heart, to give a trophy to Thava would mean more than words can describe," he said. "He and I go all the way back to 1993.
"I've had my moments in my playing days but nothing will compare to if I can get a result for him on Saturday.
"For the players and Thava, words cannot describe how I would feel and I would just be happy if I'm able to do that for them.
"This team and him deserve something, not me. I just get to sit there and watch them play."
Although they were missing a host of first-team players on Monday, Balestier put in an impressive display and were always in control throughout the game.
The defence looked solid for the entire 90 minutes, Ridwan Jamil put in a dominant shift in defensive midfield, while captain Paul Cunningham once again toiled manfully as an auxiliary striker.
And the ex-Australia international believes it would have been hard for anyone to beat his side given the determination they displayed on the night.
"We put out a hungry team that had the desire to not lose the game," Stewart explained. "The team was sound and our 'boring, long-ball' tactics were sound.
"What got us the win was the hunger and desire to chase their runners and hunt the ball down; I could go on for all night. We just did it for 90 minutes and we did it for Thava.
"The boys can't be more pleased with themselves and they did it for the boss, because of what he's done for the team.
"I don't have words to describe how well they did tonight [Monday] in terms of hunger and commitment for his club. It's beyond what I've seen for a long, long time.
"Big Paul was playing up front with a torn quad muscle that hasn't healed properly but he ran around like he was 100% fit. They were all just outstanding.
"Now we'll get our heads back down and focus on the next game."
Albirex team manager Koh Mui Tee, standing in for coach Koichi Sugiyama, admitted it was naturally disappointing to be eliminated at the penultimate hurdle but paid credit to his players for the effort they displayed.
"Of course, I can't be happy to be out of a competition at a semi-final stage," he said. "But we played according to our game plan.
"You've been watching Albirex for so many years, including under Sugiyama for the last four years, and today [Monday] we did play according to our game plan. It's just unfortunate that Balestier got the goal and we didn't.
"Our players tried very hard and I have to commend them for trying to win the game, or at least trying to get an equaliser. But it was not to be.
"They fought very hard but I also want to say Balestier fought very hard too. They challenged for every ball and both teams put in a 100% effort to try and win."
Koh also admitted the White Swans had found their opponents hard to break down and attributed that to Stewart's tactical ability to field a steady and disciplined backline.
"Balestier have always had a good defence," he added.
"From the time we encountered Darren Stewart at Gombak United, we've always found it hard to beat his team because he's so good defensively and always lines up blocks in midfield and defence.
"Most of the time, my players were unable to find any gaps to pass through and could only pass the ball back. It's a good defensive effort by Balestier."
Balestier are also in the running to win the RHB Singapore Cup and face Home United over two legs in the semi-finals at the start of October.
Image courtesy of Balestier Khalsa FC (Andrew Lim)