SINGAPORE - Home United breathed life into their Asian Football Confederation (AFC) Cup campaign after beating Lao Toyota 1-0 yesterday, but concerns linger over the team's ability to score goals.
The win, courtesy of a header from defender Abdil Qaiyyim before 1,227 fans at Jalan Besar Stadium, saw the Protectors create enough chances to put the Group H fixture to bed before settling for a solitary strike.
Without injured attackers Shahril Ishak (ankle) and Song Ui-Young (groin) and playing wide midfielder Hafiz Nor as a makeshift striker, Home's blunt cutting edge could yet return to haunt them later in the competition.
"With the chances we had, another goal would make this game safe for the team if we had a clinical finisher tonight," rued Protectors' coach Saswadimata Dasuki.
"The main thing now is to go to Laos (April 17) and get the three points. After that, we will go on against Kaya (Iloilo) and (PSM) Makassar.
Home had earlier drawn 1-1 with Indonesia Liga 1 runners-up Makassar and lost 5-0 to Philippine National League runners-up Kaya. The win moved the Singapore Premier League runners-up to third in Group H on four points, one point behind leaders Kaya and Makassar.
Against Lao Toyota, Hafiz, Adam Swandi, Izzdin Shafiq and Aqhari Abdullah all had shooting opportunities, but were unable go beat goalkeeper Outthilath Nammakhoth.
The game also became a duel between Hami Syahin and the Laotian custodian as the midfielder kept taking shots from distance to no avail.
Home finally found the net in first-half stoppage time when left-back Ho Wai Loon's floated a free kick to the far post for centre-back Abdil to head home emphatically.
Saswa said: "The most important thing is to get the three points. It was very risky at 1-0 as Lao Toyota never gave up. Credit to them, they kept coming at us till the last minute."
After seeing his players battle the full 90 minutes, Lao Toyota coach Jun Fukuda was disappointed, saying: "We came for three points but we couldn't score."
Elsewhere, Tampines Rovers thrashed Cambodian champions Nagaworld FC 5-1 in Phnom Penh to lead Group F with seven points from three games.