By Gabriel Tan
The Tigers play their final game of 2012 on Friday when they take on second-placed DPMM FC at the Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah National Stadium, but have already been guaranteed a top-six finish after last week's 1-1 draw with Tanjong Pagar United.
The Toa Payoh Stadium outfit's rise since Stewart took charge at the start of the year was been nothing short of remarkable considering they have never finished in the top half since 2003, when the club was created from a merger between Balestier Central and Clementi Khalsa.
Although Balestier did look like legitimate contenders for the title early on in the season, before a wretched run with injuries put paid to that ambition, their coach believes they can still be satisfied with what they have achieved this year.
"It has been a long, hard season for us both overall it's been good," Stewart told ESPNSTAR.com exclusively.
"I would say sixth place is a fair finish for us. This bunch of players have lifted the club from being a bottom-three side and they deserve credit."
Nonetheless, the Australian does admit their failure to find the back of the net ultimately cost them in their challenge for the title.
"I think we were a goal-scorer short of challenging for something bigger," he added. "Our winger Ruhaizad [Ismail] is our top scorer with four goals to his name.
"We can't hide from the fact that it has been probably the one area we have been lacking this season, and it's something we'll have to address."
The Tigers will still have a huge say in the title race as a win against DPMM would all but hand the title to leaders Tampines Rovers, who have a tricky tie against Harimau Muda on the same day.
And while most teams have struggled to get a result at the Sultan Hassanal Bolkian National Stadium, Stewart believes the experience of playing in an intimidating atmosphere in their pre-season 2-1 friendly win over Malaysia Super League champions Kelantan will stand his players in good stead.
Moreover, the ex-Australia international reveals he is considering handing a couple of youngsters a chance to shine on Friday.
"It's very fitting we started the year playing in front of 40,000 fans in Kelantan, and we are now ending it with a similar crowd in Brunei," he admitted. "The boys will be up for the challenge.
"[Casteels Tzu] Ming is in contention. He's had a good year with the Prime League squad and he's putting his hand up for selection.
"Daniel [Ong] could also play. He most probably won't start, but we're definitely thinking of throwing him on in the second half."
Tigers captain Paul Cunningham, who is scheduled for surgery at the end of the campaign, has travelled with the team to Brunei although it remains to be seen if he will be involved.