S-League: Fiery clash ahead of Cup final

SINGAPORE - Home United coach Lee Lim Saeng left the Queenstown Stadium quicker than most fans after on Wednesday night's match.

It was strange, considering his team had just beaten Tanjong Pagar 1-0 to remain second in the league with one round left.

Before Lee stormed out, he made his feelings known to S-League CEO Lim Chin, berating Tanjong Pagar for their overly physical style of play and for heckling his players.

Later, Home assistant coach Aidil Sharin explained that the South Korean had to leave before the post-match press conference because of other commitments.

When asked if the Jaguars did indeed heckle the Home players, Aidil said: "Well, all I can say is, that's football, especially on a wet pitch."

Jaguars coach Patrick Vallee said nothing about his opponents at first, but when told of Lee's comments, his tone turned serious.


"He said we were physical, okay. The ref gave us many yellow cards (five)," he said.

"But his players were diving everywhere. Before the ball reached their feet, they were already shouting for the referee.

"Heckling? You must be on the pitch to hear this. Maybe he didn't understand because he only speaks Korean."

The dour first half, witnessed by over 500 fans, came to life only when Home's Juma'at Jantan gave his team the lead in the 39th minute.

Hafiz Rahim raced clear of the Jaguars' defence, and cut the ball back to the fullback, who finished easily.

The match became heated as soon as the second half began.

Tanjong Pagar, led by the lively Monsef Zerka, played with more urgency, but were left frustrated whenever referee Mohd Farhad blew for a foul on a Home player.

The match saw several stoppages due to Home players needing treatment.

When winger Jordan Webb went down after a seemingly innocuous challenge by K Vikraman, several Tanjong Pagar players rushed towards him and gestured him to get up.

The Home physiotherapist had to rush onto the field again when substitute Lee Kwan Woo was fouled by Zerka.

In the end, the hosts could not find a way past the Protectors' defence, marshalled well by centre back Sirina Camara and goalkeeper Shahril Jantan, who has now kept five clean sheets in a row.

The two teams will meet again on Nov 8 in the RHB Singapore Cup final. Home are unbeaten against the Jaguars after three meetings this season - two wins and a draw - but Vallee promises the Cup final will be a totally different game.

"Home are a very good team. I don't understand why they are only second in the league," he said.

"They will be favourites (for) the final. I just hope they don't keep falling down on the Jalan Besar pitch."

In Wednesday night's other match, Balestier defeated Woodlands 3-0 thanks to a brace from Qui Li and a goal from Paul Cunningham at Toa Payoh Stadium.

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