Young Lions finally win on their 13th attempt

Khairin Nadim Rahim (left), Daniel Goh and Ryhan Stewart celebrate after Goh scores for Young Lions in their 3-2 win over Balestier Khalsa at the Toa Payoh Stadium yesterday. Goh slotted the ball in against his former club, after the Tigers failed to
Khairin Nadim Rahim (left), Daniel Goh and Ryhan Stewart celebrate after Goh scores for Young Lions in their 3-2 win over Balestier Khalsa at the Toa Payoh Stadium yesterday. Goh slotted the ball in against his former club, after the Tigers failed to clear their lines from a Joel Chew free kick.ST PHOTO: MOHD KHALID BABA

It took them 13 rounds but the Young Lions finally tasted victory in the Singapore Premier League season with a 3-2 win over Balestier Khalsa at the Toa Payoh Stadium yesterday.

The result meant that Balestier's winless run extended to eight matches, despite coach Marko Kraljevic stating before the match that it was a must-win encounter for his team.

The Young Lions have largely impressed with their positive, entertaining football but a win had eluded them. However, coach Philippe Aw was confident that, as long as they kept their performances up, the win would eventually come.

He sang the same tune after the match, saying: "What's pleasing is that even before today, we stuck with the process and the boys have developed individually and as a team over the season.

"Today we came here with a game plan and the boys carried it out perfectly."

Kraljevic said: "We conceded some silly goals and it was difficult after that. They gave us problems on the counter-attack. We tried our best but we were second best.

"We concede too many goals in every game, it becomes difficult to even draw when it's like that. We need to cut that out."

Balestier made four changes to the line-up that lost 3-1 to Geylang International in their previous match, with defender Ho Wai Loon and attacker Iqbal Hussain making their first starts.

The Young Lions made two changes to the squad that drew 1-1 with Tanjong Pagar, with Khairin Nadim Rahim and Zulqarnaen Suzliman featuring in the starting XI.

After a cagey first 15 minutes, the Young Lions were awarded a penalty when a brilliant lofted ball from Hami Syahin Said allowed Ilhan Fandi to run into the box, only to be brought down by Tigers' Amer Hakeem Nazri.

Hami stepped up to notch the opening goal despite goalkeeper Zaiful Nizam Abdullah getting a palm to his effort.

The away side then doubled their lead in the 34th minute through winger Daniel Goh.

Goh slotted in from close range against his former club, after the Tigers failed to clear their lines from a Joel Chew free kick.

The Tigers returned from the half-time break determined to turn in an improved display and, two minutes after the restart, they got a goal back through substitute Hazzuwan Halim.

The Young Lions' third arrived in the 86th after Hami's cross was tapped in by Harhys Stewart.

Balestier spiced things up in the last minutes when Sime Zuzul scored the Tigers' second.

But the Young Lions held on to land their first three points of the season.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on August 01, 2021, with the headline 'Young Lions finally win on their 13th attempt'. Subscribe