Balestier Khalsa take on Brunei DPMM for the third time in a span of eight days on Wednesday at Toa Payoh Stadium, this time with everything on the line as they trail on aggregate in the RHB Singapore Cup semi-final.
The Tigers will be hoping it is going to be third time lucky for them, as they need a win by at least a two-goal margin against DPMM to turn the tie around in the second leg.
Currently trailing 2-0 on aggregate following a defeat in the first-leg last week, Balestier also played out a stalemate over the weekend against DPMM.
The Tigers could perhaps take heart from the fact that they were far from being outplayed in the previous two matches. Yet, profligacy in front of goal cost them dearly. There is also the fact that DPMM have seemingly found their best form of the season, having not lost in their last nine outings.
Nevertheless, Balestier Head Coach Marko Kraljevic believes that with a little luck, it will be the Tigers who will advance into the final instead.
“All four games were very close games and it can go either way. Sometimes, you need a bit of luck,” he said.
“Our biggest problem is scoring goals. We need to improve in the attacking third to be able to progress to the final. We need to score at least two goals and to do that, we need to be more deadly in the opponent’s box.”
On the other hand, DPMM Head Coach Rene Weber is wary of complacency, especially against an opponent that they have not lost against in four meetings this year.
“We must concentrate, because they had chances to score in the first leg. It will not be easy and we have to play to win, not just thinking to get a draw,” said Weber.
“We cannot be relaxed. A playoff game is always different from league game. We must play hard – a two-goal advantage does not mean the tie is finished. Balestier do have a good team.”
Balestier may miss the services of Keegan Linderboom, after the target man had to be substituted off with injury in the weekend.
DPMM will have everyone available for selection.
29/09/18: Balestier 0-0 DPMM – Singapore Premier League
26/09/18: DPMM 2-0 Balestier – Singapore Cup
07/07/18: DPMM 2-2 Balestier – Singapore Premier League
13/05/18: Balestier 1-2 DPMM – Singapore Premier League
16/10/17: DPMM 1-4 Balestier – Singapore Premier League
KEEP AN EYE OUT FOR
Shaqi Sulaiman – Balestier
The young centre-back played a huge role in keeping DPMM at bay in the match on Saturday, and will once again be counted upon to stop Ukranian Volodymyr Priyomov.
Azwan Ali – DPMM
The mercurial playmaker conjured a masterclass performance in the first leg. Both of his goals this season have come in the Singapore Cup as well, and it won’t be a surprise if Azwan proves to be the difference maker once again on Wednesday.
WHAT ELSE THEY SAID
Balestier’s Kraljevic: “We will need something special from our strikers to turn the tie around … I hope we can surprise DPMM on Wednesday.”
DPMM’s Weber: “We know how they play having played four games against them. They always send long balls to their tall striker. They can also press us hard at the start of the match, so we must be ready to avoid making any mistakes.”