HOME UNITED 1 (Yasir Hanapi 26)
PERSIPURA JAYAPURA 1 (Ferinando Pahabol 73)
Home United picked up their first point in this year's AFC Cup competition after a 1-1 draw against Indonesian Super League champions Persipura Jayapura at the Jalan Besar Stadium Tuesday night.
The Protectors must be kicking themselves for failing to take away all three points in their Group E clash.
The home side were brilliant in the first half, taking the lead through a fantastic goal by Yasir Hanapi in the 26th minute.
But Home failed to show the same urgency in the second 45 minutes and paid the price, when Persipura substitute Ferinando Pahabol found the equaliser in the 73rd minute, after the Singapore side's defence failed to clear their lines.
Home coach Lee Lim Saeng was disappointed with his team's inability to kill the game off.
"I was expecting more of what I saw in the first half after half-time," said the former South Korea defender.
"We have to improve on our fitness, because in the second half there was a big distance (between players)."
Despite having only 13 outfield players available owing to injuries, Home took the game to the Indonesian side early on.
With fullbacks Ismail Yunos and Juma'at Jantan on song, and the attacking triumvirate of Yasir, Lee Kwan Woo and Qiu Li in the mood, the Protectors dazzled at times with their slick football.
In the 26th minute, Yasir finished off a fine team move with a delicate lob for the opening goal.
Home, runners-up in last year's Great Eastern-Yeo's S.League, had chances to put the game to bed.
But Lee, Qiu and midfielder Izzdin Shafiq all failed to convert and Home were punished for their profligacy when Ferinando stabbed home the equaliser in the 73rd minute.
Persipura coach Jacksen Tiago, a former Home player, said: "I've seen a lot of videos of Home United but their first half tonight was the best I've seen of them.
"I don't know why (Persipura played poorly) but I think we gave too much space to the Home midfield in the first half.
"Maybe the boys were tired from the trip over here, but you could see both teams were tired in the second half."
To rub salt into the wound, the Protectors' key defender Ismail picked up an ankle injury just minutes before the end.
With midfielder Syahiran Miswan and star forward Lee also picking up knocks, coach Lee was left sweating as he looked ahead to the S.League clash against title rivals Brunei DPMM on Friday.
"Maybe I'll have to prepare myself to play if this (the injury crisis) continues," he quipped.
Get The New Paper for more stories.