Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Balestier battle SCC in FA Cup final

The battle for top honours in the Singapore Pools FA Cup final will see Balestier Khalsa’s Prime League team take on National Football League Division 1 side, Singapore Cricket Club, at the hallowed grounds of Singapore football, the Jalan Besar Stadium.

It will be a contest of experienced footballing veterans versus the unbridled vigour of youth.

The Singapore Cricket Club counts the likes of ex-National and S.League stars such as Tan Kim Leng, Md Nahar Daud and Tan Sio Beng among its ranks.

Balestier Khalsa, comprising Prime League players under the age of 23, will be banking on their team-spirit and superior fitness to see them through to a win.

Some of Balestier’s players to look out for are goalkeeper Lee Heng Huat and midfielders Aloysius Yap and Sebastian Seah who has already scored two goals in the run up to the finals.

“We are confident but not over-confident.” says Balestier’s Prime League Coach V Kanakarajan, adding further that:

“SCC are a very experienced team comprising (a few) former S.League players. But we are well-prepared. My boys train daily during the weekends and team-spirit is high. We know the strengths of the opponents and are ready and prepared to take them on.”

SCC, however, will be no push-overs. The team are the 2009 NFL Division 1 Champions and their route to this final saw them clinching the scalps of Sembawang FC, Katong FC and Jollilads Arsenal FC; in the semi-finals they overcame neighbours SRC after a 1-1 regulation-time draw, after which the SCC won 6-5 on penalties.

As SCC Coach Owen Manoghan put it, “We re-built this team in 2008 and came up to the 1st Division (from 2nd). This is a solid team and the experience will count for a lot in today’s grand final. We will utilise our strengths (of experience) and superior physicality in the final against Balestier.”

Balestier, meantime, are savouring the opportunity for their first-ever FA Cup trophy. The chance to add some glitter to their clubhouse cabinet will be an added incentive for Coach Kanan and his sterling young charges.

The Central Singapore club are no doubt deserved entrants to the final, their route to today’s game seeing them overcome Sengkang Punggol, the NFA’s U-17, followed by a 4-3 penalty shoot-out win over Tampines Rovers in the 3rd Round, that game ending 0-0 during regulation time. In the semi-finals Balestier trounced Gombak United 3-0.

The Final of the FA Cup will no doubt see Balestier and Singapore Cricket Club going all out for a deserved victory and the winners’ cheque of S$7000.

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