Singapore Cup: Geylang coach tags Protectors as favourites

SINGAPORE - Home United are the team to beat in the 2013 RHB Singapore Cup.

So said Geylang International coach V Kanan, after his side were dumped out of the tournament by the Protectors last Monday night at the Bishan Stadium.

Already trailing 2-0 from last Tuesday's first leg, Geylang lost 3-2 in the second meeting as the Protectors eased into the semi-finals.

They will meet Balestier in the last four.

Said Kanan: "They have the team to win the Cup and can take on any side, any day.

"I told my boys before Tuesday's match that if we can beat Home, we can be champions because they've been the best team so far.

"Home are definitely the favourites."

The Protectors certainly have a fine history in the Singapore Cup.

They are five-time winners, and most recently lifted the trophy in 2011.

But if Home are to win it for a sixth time, they will have to tighten up their defence.

While their attack - led by lively veteran Indra Sahdan - looked impressive last  Monday night, they were shoddy at the back.

Two minutes before half-time and with the score locked at 1-1, Home defender Noh Rahman's poor touch in his own penalty box led to him committing a clumsy foul on Stefan Milojevic and conceding a penalty.

Noh was bailed out by his goalkeeper Shahril Jantan, who denied Geylang captain Jozef Kaplan from 12 metres.

Great reflexes

In the 52nd minute, Shahril came to Home's rescue again when he showed great reflexes to tip Milojevic's close-range header over the bar.

But Home were comfortably ahead on aggregate by then anyway.

Ismail Yunos put them in front on the night in the 14th minute, but Milojevic equalised for Geylang on 35 minutes.

Barely a minute later, Firdaus Idros put Home back in front before Indra scored his side's third in the 49th minute.

Kaplan bagged a consolation goal in the 71st minute.

Home coach Lee Lim Saeng seems to have found the perfect blend of pace and guile in his attack, combining the speed of wingers Jordan Webb and Firdaus Idros with the intelligence of forwards like Masrezwan Masturi and Indra.

The South Korean did not even have to depend on his star forward, compatriot Lee Kwan Woo, who was kept on the bench.

Coach Lee said his side could get even better.

"I'm happy with some parts of our game, and with some others I'm not," he said, declining to say which areas those were.

"But it's difficult for our players who are fasting, and I want to thank them for trying their best.

"I think we will play better after the fasting month."

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