Hard work, some luck put Warriors in unlikely final

Warriors FC captain Gabriel Quak (centre) rejoicing with teammates after beating Brunei DPMM 4-2 on penalties in the Singapore Cup semi-final second leg last night. They play Tampines in Saturday's final.
Warriors FC captain Gabriel Quak (centre) rejoicing with teammates after beating Brunei DPMM 4-2 on penalties in the Singapore Cup semi-final second leg last night. They play Tampines in Saturday's final.ST PHOTO: DESMOND WEE

The proverb "fortune favours the brave" is known to most people but Warriors FC captain Gabriel Quak's reminder to his team throughout their Komoco Motors Singapore Cup semi-final win yesterday was: "The harder we work, the luckier we get."

And indeed it was hard work, belief and a bit of luck that got them through the second leg of the Singapore Cup semi-finals.

In a thrilling encounter with Brunei DPMM, Warriors came from behind to win the match 5-4 to level the tie at 5-5 and then win 4-2 in a penalty shoot-out.

They face Tampines Rovers, who beat Geylang International 2-1 (4-1 on aggregate) at Our Tampines Hub yesterday, in the final on Saturday. It will be the tournament's first all-local final since 2014.

Making the final is an almost surreal achievement for a team who have endured a torrid time both on and off the pitch. Not only did the nine-time league champions finish a dismal seventh this term but they also struggled financially, failing to pay their staff on time on several occasions over the past year.

And with a 1-0 deficit to Singapore Premier League winners DPMM from the first leg, that dream seemed even more distant for the Warriors.

But Quak believed his side had "nothing to lose" ahead of last night's match at Jurong East Stadium.

"We ended the second half of the previous game very well and I just told them to carry on with the same approach... anything is possible," added the 29-year-old.

"I told them the harder we work, the luckier we get... it wasn't an easy victory for us.

"When it goes down to a penalty shoot-out, it's always luck and lottery and I believe luck was on our side today. We really worked hard today.

"Everybody - from defender to goalkeeper to striker - played their part today."

With the score at 4-3 in Warriors' favour at the end of regulation time and 5-4 after 30 minutes of extra time, the game went to a shoot-out.

DPMM blinked first when Warriors goalkeeper Fashah Iskandar saved Azwan Ali Rahman's shot for his team to maintain their 2-1 lead in the shoot-out.

  • S'PORE CUP, S-FINAL, 2ND LEG

    Warriors FC 5

    Brunei DPMM 4

    (Aggregate 5-5, Warriors win 4-2 on penalties)

Sahil Suhaimi and Tajeli Salamat each scored for Warriors, with Blake Ricciuto scoring the Bruneians' second. But when DPMM's Charlie Clough sent his shot over the bar, Warriors rejoiced as their victory was sealed.

An emotional Fashah, hailed by his captain as "the hero of the penalty shoot-out", spoke few words after the match but said of his save: "I just wanted to go to the final, that's all."

DPMM coach Adrian Pennock had only good things to say of both sides, adding: "It was just one game too far for us, we looked very tired but I'm not making excuses, Warriors fully deserved going through and I wish them all the best.

"I'm not going to complain at all because I'm so proud of my players."

Quak expects Saturday's game against Tampines, four-time winners Warriors' first Singapore Cup final since 2012, will be "very tough" but cautioned: "They should be wary of us too - we did trouble them (before) and we know how to play against them.

"Defensively, we have to be tight, we are getting better as a team and the chemistry is good.

"I just hope we can bring all this to the final and create one final memory together."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 31, 2019, with the headline 'Hard work, some luck put Warriors in unlikely final'. Print Edition | Subscribe