Backup Warriors give Bok food for thought

SAFFC coach Richard Bok admits Monday's 6-1 win over Gombak United has given him a welcome selection headache ahead of Sunday's RHB Singapore Cup final.

Football News: SAFFC

By Gabriel Tan

The Warriors, who are currently seventh in the Great Eastern-YEO's S.League and were knocked out of the Singapore League Cup at the semi-finals, have one final shot at silverware this season when they take on Tampines Rovers on at the Jalan Besar Stadium on this weekend.

And with one eye on Sunday's decider, Bok opted to rest first-teamers Daniel Bennett, Marin Vidosevic, Noh Rahman, Aliff Shafaein and Fazrul Nawaz for Monday's league encounter, only to watch a number of his fringe players shine in their comfortable rout of the Bulls.

Erwan Gunawan, who has been hampered by injury this year, grabbed a goal and an assist, while 21-year-old Croatian winger Marin Jonjic also looked lively and got on the scoresheet with a powerful header early on in the second half.

Admitting it was good to record a victory in their final game at the Choa Chu Kang Stadium for 2012, Bok also revealed he will have plenty of pondering to do from now till Sunday.

"It wasn't a perfect game but it was a good win," he said. "Especially in our last home match of the season.

"The game got off to a bit of a scrappy start and it took awhile to get our engines started. I made five changes to rest some of our players and I think those that came in rose to the occasion.

"They definitely will [give me a selection headache for Sunday's final], especially given we have five foreigners and I can only play four of them."

While both Gunawan and Jonjic showed plenty of quality, the star of the show was undoubtedly SAFFC winger Tatsuro Inui, who whipped in three exquisitive deliveries into the box that led to three goals.

Bok was effusive in his praise of his Japanese import, who he feels also did well in last Friday's 3-2 league defeat to Tampines, but believes the difference in Monday's game had been their level of finishing.

"Even against Tampines, I thought he [Inui] gave us good service," he added. "He did well today [Monday] with three assists.

"It's not often that we score three goals from set-pieces, so we definitely showed good finishing. We were very clinical and hopefully it'll be the same in the final."

The SAFFC tactician, who will be leaving the club and the end of the season to be replaced by current assistant V. Selvaraj, also refuted claims it had been an easy win on the night.

"I think we showed more desire," Bok said. "We earned the victory by attacking the ball.

"Like I said, the five boys that came in wanted to impress and I think they did well. Hopefully the team recovers well and can put in a similar display on Sunday."

Gombak coach K. Balagumaran admitted he was surprised at the way the Warriors easily carved his side open, especially given they had given their opponents a real test when both teams met in the semi-finals of the Singapore Cup, which ended in a 2-0 aggregate win to SAFFC.

And while he was quick to point out that goalkeeper Rudy Khairullah, who was making only his second professional appearance, was still learning the ropes, he admitted the 18-year-old had plenty of improving to do.

"I certainly didn't expect us to lose by this scoreline," he said with an air of disbelief. "To be honest, I think all the goals could have been prevented.

"Goalkeepers need to be commanding at set-pieces but Rudy is still young, lacks communication and had no presence.

"I think having [first-choice goalkeeper] Zaiful [Nizam] would have made a difference."

Balagumaran also admitted the absence of centre-back Walid Lounis through a hip injury was a tough hurdle to overcome.

"With Walid out, we had to reshuffle but even Ismail, who came in at centre-back, was carrying an injury and wasn't 100% fit," he added.

"That was a real problem for us as well."

Gombak take on United Football League outfit Loyola Meralco Sparks in the Singapore Cup third-place playoff on Sunday, before SAFFC and Tampines lock horns for the main prize.



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