Tigers aim to roar back against DPMM

It is a case of onwards and upwards for Balestier Khalsa coach Darren Stewart ahead of Thursday's Great Eastern-YEO's S.League clash with DPMM FC.

Football News: Balestier Khalsa

Balestier enter the eagerly anticipated tussle with Vjeran Simunic's charges determined to get themselves back on track after last weekend's surprise defeat at the hands of Tanjong Pagar United.

Sunday's narrow 1-0 loss courtesy of Takaya Kawanabe's 67th minute penalty, brought an abrupt end to the Tigers' impressive three-game winning streak, and - combined with the Brunei outfit's 5-1 thrashing of Hougang United a day earlier - saw table-topping DPMM extend the gap between themselves and Balestier - who are still riding high in fourth spot - to five points.

Despite the setback, Stewart has declared that the Tanjong blip is now well and truly behind his side, as they look to round off the first half of a so far successful S.League campaign in style.

"What can we do about the (Tanjong) result?" the amiable Australian said after a lively Wednesday evening training session.

"We could have dwelled on it, we could have been sad, unhappy, angry and disappointed, but nothing would have changed.

"I told the boys that the longer we moan and think about the dropping of points, the harder it would be to get ourselves up for the next game. Because of that it really hasn't taken much to get them up for the (DPMM) game.

Balestier long-term injury victims Goran Subara and Ridwan Jamil will miss out against DPMM, as will Ruhaizad Ismail due to suspension.

However, Tengku Mushadad is - yet again - due to play through the pain barrier prior to a potential operation on his left knee during the mid-season break, while Balestier also look set to be boosted by the return of livewire forward Zulkiffli Hassim after a lengthy five-game ban.

"Zulkiffli was flying before he got the suspension," Stewart said of Balestier's talented number 12 whose last game was in early April when Albirex Niigata were the opponents.

"He has trained exceedingly hard during the long time he has been absent. He can add enthusiasm and pace to the team and there's no doubt that he is on form. In fact, in the four years I have known Zulkiffli, I have never known him more confident than he is at the moment."

DPMM arrive in Singapore having only lost once this season and Stewart, while playing down any notion that Thursday's fixture could go some way towards deciding the destiny of the 2012 S.League title, is acutely aware of the threat DPMM will pose to the Toa Payoh Stadium outfit.

"DPMM are a hardworking team, they are physical and they have some good imports, especially (forward) Shahrazen Said who is playing very well," the former Gombak United coach explained.

"They are top of the league, and although that is partly to do with the tremendous home advantage they have in Brunei, they are a tough team to beat anywhere.

"However, I think it is far too early to judge whether or not the result will have a bearing on who wins the S.League because there is so long to go. Instead, I prefer to look at it as a gauge of how well we can bounce back from our last game," Stewart concluded.



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