S league: We'll be party-poopers

The future of the Great Eastern-Yeo's S.League is still uncertain, with clubs still holding out on offering contracts to any of their players.

But it was laughter that dominated the start of Balestier Khalsa's training session on Thursday.

Indeed, Marko Kraljevic's charges were positively pumped up ahead of tonight's away fixture in Bandar Seri Begawan, where they will be looking to cap a good season by spoiling Brunei DPMM's hopes for a title-winning party.

"We've had a good season, from the AFC Cup to The New Paper League Cup and, if you told me before the start of the season that we'd have a chance to finish third in the league, I would have taken it. I would have taken it and bought you lunch," said Kraljevic.

Balestier did not survive an AFC Cup group stage that saw them face eventual winners Johor Darul Ta'zim, but turned in credible performances.

They were beaten 2-1 by Albirex Niigata in the TNP League Cup final.


"Our job is not done, and there is still a lot to play for," added Kraljevic.

After last night's fixtures, Balestier are fourth, three points behind Tampines Rovers, but with an inferior goal difference.With second-placed Tampines two points adrift of leaders DPMM, Balestier can play party-poopers.

"V Sundramoorthy (Tampines head coach) needs a favour from us, but this has got nothing to do with them. We want to go out there and win that game, there is a lot left to fight for," he said.

"We don't know what is happening to the league next year, and my boys are all fighting for their future, fighting for contracts - and we are going to Brunei to attack and look for a win."

Balestier are the only side to have beaten DPMM twice this season, including a 2-1 win at the Bruneian capital in May, and Kraljevic is confident that they can do it again.

"Let's be honest, DPMM need three points (to be sure of winning the title), and they are playing in front of their own fans. The pressure is on themselves," he said.

"There used to be a feeling that if any club go to Brunei to play, it would have been almost impossible to win there, but not anymore," added the 40-year-old, who is predicting a Bruneian onslaught that he believes his charges can exploit.

"Our wide players will be important for us: Zulkiffli Hassim will need to use his speed to get behind their defence, and Ignatius Ang will be key too.

"The transition from defence to attack will determine how the game goes, but I'm confident we can win.

"We've had a good season, and I've been happy with how the team have done, and I hope we will be able to end the season nicely."

This article was first published on November 21, 2015.
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