Warriors wary despite Cup advantage

V. Selvaraj insists SAFFC must remain cautious despite claiming a 2-1 lead over Home United in the first leg of their RHB Singapore Cup quarter-final tie.

A brief scare for the Warriors...

By Gabriel Tan

A shocking own-goal from experienced Home defender Rosman Sulaiman five minutes after the break handed the Warriors the win at the Bishan Stadium on Wednesday evening, after Protectors captain Shi Jiayi had cancelled out Tatsuro Inui's brilliant 37th-minute opener on the stroke of halftime.

But despite having put one foot in the semi-finals of the competition, SAFFC assistant coach Selvaraj, who took charge of the side in the absence of Richard Bok, insists they cannot afford to get ahead of themselves, especially against a quality side like Home.

"We may have won the game but it doesn't mean anything yet," he said after the game. "We still have to be prepared for the second leg.

"We are playing Home United, a side that will punish us if we lose concentration at any point. We were a bit lucky tonight [Wednesday] they didn't finish off their chances."

The victory had been deserving on the night as the visitors showed more attacking intent and regularly threatened the Home backline on the counter, although Selvaraj believes it was their defensive resilience that had been key.

"It was very important that we kept our shape," he added. "I told the boys to focus on defence firstly and ultimately, Home ran out of options and had to resort to the long ball."

And while he remains cautious over their prospects of making the semis, Selvaraj admitted to being pleased with the result and paid credit to the work Bok did with the team before he left to Japan for the AFC Professional Coaching Diploma course.

"I have to say it was an excellent result for us," the former Singapore international. "Plenty of credit has to go to Richard - this is his plan that came to fruition tonight [Wednesday]. We were merely carrying it out."

Home United assistant coach Baek Jong-seok believed it wasn't exactly a poor performance from his charges, and expressed optimism that the Protectors could still turn things around in the return leg.

"Losing the game is always disappointing but there's stilll another match to go," the South Korean said. "Unfortunately for us, Rosman's own-goal was the turning point of the game.

"I don't think it was a bad performance from us. We had our chances as well.

"I'm sure we can beat them away next week."

Baek did however admit that the Warriors had caused all sorts of problems for the Home defence, an area which has given head coach Lee Lim-saeng plenty of headaches already this season.

"SAFFC showed their class tonight [Wednesday] and they were really dangerous on the counter-attack," he added.

"With their quality midfielders and strikers, they were always going to cause a problem for us."

Both sides lock horns again on Monday at the Choa Chu Kang Stadium, before facing off in the Great Eastern-YEO's S.League three days later at the Jalan Besar Stadium.



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