Home zoom in on cup final

They are the most successful team in the Singapore Cup and are on the verge of making it three titles in four years.

They also have two seasoned Cup veterans in Shahril Jantan and Noh Rahman, who have six Singapore Cup triumphs between them.

But Home United coach Lee Lim Saeng isn't taking anything for granted ahead of the Nov 7 final against Balestier Khalsa at the Jalan Besar Stadium.

"We know that Balestier are one of the more respectable teams who play together. They will give us trouble, but we will attack and defend as a team," said the South Korean.

"We will play with determination to attack and shoot at every opportunity. I know my players will always give everything against our opponents."

Lee, who is on the verge of making it a hat-trick of Singapore Cups after successes in 2011 and 2013, was more concerned with what lies ahead for the Protectors after the final.

SHOWCASE STRENGTH

He said: "It's more important to the team than to me. We must showcase to everyone our strength as a team.

"Winning means Home can play in another international tournament and Singapore football needs to be showcased at such a level."

With one eye firmly on the final, Home took their foot off the pedal in the league, losing 1-0 to Tampines before succumbing 3-2 to table-toppers Warriors FC in their last two matches.

The consecutive defeats saw them slip out of the title race, leaving them with only the Cup to fight for.

But Lee is unperturbed.

"Winning the cup will not only be for us, but it will also be for all the fans of Home.

"Both teams desire to take home the Cup. Fans will be treated to an entertaining and exciting football match, and that's why we want to retain the title."

Sharing that sentiment is goalkeeper Shahril.

The 34-year-old is hunting for his fifth Singapore Cup winners' medal.

He said: "It has been one of the most intense seasons in recent times. This is the first time in a while that the title race is so close between six teams and anyone could have taken the title anyway.

"We're one of the best in the league. We can only get better and we'll show it by winning the Cup."

In a league campaign where Home have flattered to deceive on many occasions, club captain Noh rued their missed chances, but admitted that the Cup provided some respite for the team.

"We are up there with the best in the league, but we need to play well as a team consistently because failing to capitalise on several key matches was what cost us the league this year.

"The Cup is a different playing field. We faced different foreign teams, but that was what made us focus on playing our style and fighting until the very end."

Despite Home's obvious hunger and quiet confidence, Lee was full of respect for their opponents.

He said: "Our team are preparing to play one of the most difficult finals as Balestier are not easy opponents. Everyone is putting in a lot of effort to train for the Cup."

The final also holds a lot of significance to Noh, who is gunning for back-to-back cup wins.

He said: "This will be my second consecutive Cup win with Home if we win. Though we did not capitalise to win the league, this Cup will be a very special way to repay everyone who has supported us thus far."

haiqals@sph.com.sg


This article was first published on Oct 21, 2014.
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