Tuesday, August 20, 2013

We are still in it

In an evenly-contested Uniform Derby at the Jalan Besar Stadium, the contest was decided in the 14th minute when Home were awarded a spot-kick and Lee Kwan-woo score after his initial effort was saved by Hassan Sunny.

Home assistant coach Aidil Sharin insists they are still in with a shout of challenging for the title after their morale boasting win.

"We're close to the end of the second round now and we just want to take one game at a time," he explained.

"We want to get maximum points from our next two games so we can challenge the likes of Albirex [Niigata (S)], Tanjong Pagar United and even Woodlands [Wellington], who are now fourth [before Home's win]. Then we'll see how it goes.
"We can't say no to challenging for the title. We'll fight till the end until it's no longer possible, and you can see the boys have the desire."

Although the Protectors could - and perhaps should - have wrapped up the three points by grabbing a second, Aidil believes their lack of a finishing touch is nothing to get overly worried about.

"It's a good win for us," he added. "Although it's a slim win, it's a good morale boost.

"We're getting there in terms of where we think our best football is at. We create lots of chances and the boys are trying their best, but they just couldn't get the last touch to put it into the back of the net.

"It's not a problem; the good thing is that they're creating chances.

"What pleased us the most was that the boys worked for the entire 90 minutes. They were disciplined, they gave it their all and they were always fighting.

"Even when we were 1-0 up and Warriors were coming at us, we still looked to attack and never gave up."

As for Warriors coach Alex Weaver, he was unable to hide his disappointment that there appeared to be little contact between Lee and Chiang and such an incident proved the difference.

"Yes, I think it was [a bad call]," he said, when asked about the penalty. "Most of you know that I try to be professional all the time.

"But it's disappointing to lose a game 1-0 to a penalty like that. I don't know 100% if there was no contact [between the players] but you have to ask Lee Kwan-woo if he could've have stayed on his feet.

"But listening to Jeremy and the other defenders, it's disappointing to see a quality player like Lee Kwan-woo have to beat his opponent in that manner. I'll leave it at that."

Nonetheless, Weaver admitted his side also had themselves to blame for their failure to put away a number of good chances, but he leapt to the defence of Sufian Anuar, who tried his hardest in the absence of the suspended Mislav Karoglan but was just let down by his final touch.

"Of course I have to be concerned when we're not scoring goals," the ex-Hougang United boss conceded.

"But you have to see our situation where the main striker [Karoglan] is suspended and someone who's good enough to be a starter and has proven that in the past comes in, but is just having a tough time in terms of confidence.

"When you see the work Sufian puts in in training, especially now that it's the fasting month, you can't be critical of him. He's in there and had chances and it's one thing that all strikers go through.

"Sufian's done extremely well in terms of his work rate in training and games and it will come. If you work as hard and smart as he does, it will come."

The result also means Warriors' hopes of finishing inside the top six are almost all but over but the Englishman is refusing to give up hope, and hopes his players can take the positives from their recent displays.

"Of course, we're disappointed that we lost because this was a big, big game," he added. "Had we won, it would have been game on in terms of our bid to get into the top six but now it's extremely difficult.

"But we've shown we can compete against these guys [Home] and the likes of Tampines [Rovers]. We're just missing that extra bit of quality to turn these results into wins."

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