By Gabriel TanFollow @@gabetan13
The win at the Hougang Stadium, which came courtesy of second-half goals from Fazli Jaffar and Liam Shotton, has put the Cheetahs firmly in control of their RHB Singapore Cup quarter-final tie ahead of Friday's return encounter at the Toa Payoh Stadium.
Furthermore, it also ended their terrible run of six defeats in a row, including a penalty shoot-out loss to Harimau Muda in the Starhub League Cup, and Johana's relief was clear for all to see after the final whistle.
"To be honest, I've been looking forward to the opportunity to smile again," he said. "I haven't smiled in the past two months.
"It was unforeseen how we had to deal with all the negatives. No matter how well we played our beautiful football, it just didn't translate to a win.
"Everyone was really worried, from the management to the players but they were determined to win today [Monday]. The boys played really well and there's nothing more I can ask from them.
"Even though we were missing a couple of important players like [Mamadou] Diallo and Nurhilmi [Jasni], we still did well."
Johana also took credit for the victory by claiming his tactics had played a key role in nullifying Balestier, who entered Monday's game high on confidence on the back of an 11-game unbeaten run.
"Balestier are a physical side," he explained. "We all know they play pumping football and just hope for the set-pieces, but I prepared my players well.
"Balestier do packing football whereas we are working towards building up the play. I believe in the diamond shape and you can see this is the setup I'm pushing in training.
"Even though they [Balestier] packed their defence, I managed to find space by opening up the game."
And while his side now have a comfortable lead to sit back on when they visit the Toa Payoh Stadium, the Cheetahs boss insists his side will play an overly defensive game on Friday.
"I always play attacking football," he added. "We will still go on the offensive in the second leg.
"Of course we might have to be a bit more cautious.
"I have three days to prepare my players and I really hope we get through to the semi-finals."
Despite the defeat, Balestier coach Darren Stewart insisted he was not too disappointed by the result purely because his side had not done enough to warrant the win on Monday.
"We deserved to lose," he said. "That's why I'm not disappointed.
"Our defensive shape was no there and we had no energy, but that's what happens after a great display against Home [United].
"Maybe I should have brought in fresher legs but the players are not robots. They're entitled to an off day, especially after our excellent run and you won't find me criticising any of them; the effort was there."
The Tigers did have a couple of chances to grab what might have proved a valuable away goal, but the Australian revealed he was just happy they did not lose by a bigger margin.
"In all honesty, I'm just happy it stayed a 2-0," Stewart added. "A third goal would have killed us but at 2-0, we're still in the ball game.
"To start with, we'll have to score two [in the second leg] but I'm looking to get our defence back in order, which we will.
"Once that happens, we'll be okay but it's certainly not the end of the world. I don't think they [Hougang] were better by a mile but we just didn't play well."
Whoever emerges as the victor on Friday will meet the winner of the tie between Home United and Geylang International in the semi-finals.
Image courtesy of Balestier Khalsa FC (Andrew Lim)