Football: Balestier keep AFC Cup hopes alive after beating New Radiant 3-0

SINGAPORE - Balestier Khalsa gave themselves a lifeline in their bid to reach the knockout round of the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) Cup with a comfortable 3-0 win over bottom side New Radiant in their penultimate Group F match on Tuesday night.

 In front of a 706-strong crowd at the Jalan Besar Stadium, the S-League side took the lead on 22 minutes through winger Zulkiffli Hassim, who was quickest to pounce after New Radiant goalkeeper Fairooz Ahmed had tipped Emir Lotinac's effort onto the post. 

Zulkiffli continued to be a thorn in the visitors' side, and added an assist after veteran midfielder Jamil Ali finished clinically from his team-mate's lay-off on 31 minutes. 

The Maldivian champions struggled to create clear-cut chances, and a free-kick straight at Tigers' goalkeeper Zaiful Nizam was the best they could muster in the first-half. 

They came out with renewed vigour in the second-half, but a poor defensive clearance allowed forward Fadhil Noh to curl the ball home on 60 minutes, effectively sealing the win for his side.

 The hosts now have seven points from five games, behind Hong Kong's Kitchee SC and the Philippines' Kaya FC. Kitchee had beaten Kaya 1-0 earlier on Tuesday to lead the group with 10 points, while the latter sits in second with nine points.

 Balestier must now defeat Kitchee in their final group stage match to have any chance of progressing to the knockout round. The away clash against the Hong Kong Premier League champions will take place on May 10.

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