Harimau Muda coach Razip Ismail was all smiles after his young charges, the Harimau Muda B team, effectively an Under-20 team, beat Warriors FC fair and square at Pasir Gudang Stadium on Saturday evening.
He was modest enough to indicate that his side might have been a little lucky to hold on for the 2-1 win when under enormous pressure over the final 30 or so minutes of the game.
“I feel very happy to achieve our first home win after so many games,” he candidly said.
“The boys’ attitude today was good from the beginning and they all showed good character. They played to the strategy I had laid down for them.
“The Warriors were quite slow to begin with and we used our [superior] speed well, at least until the closing stages of the second half.
“A bit of tension crept into our game late in the second half, but the boys handled that very well. My goalkeeper made some important saves as we became a little nervous near the end."
V. Selvaraj, coach of the Warriors, sang a familiar tune when he met the media after the game, making no bones about how the game was lost for his side.
“The damage was done in the first half; it was definitely a game of two halves this evening," he explained.
“I think we paid them too much respect in the first half, we allowed them too much time on the ball, but in the second half we showed far more desire and the second half was totally different.
“But it was too late for that as we were already two goals down.
“We could have won it or at least have taken a point but by the time we got going, it was too late and we needed more composure with our finishing."
The former Singapore international vowed not to give up the fight however, despite his team's fourth defeat in seven games.
“I still have a lot of faith in this team,” Selvaraj pledged.
“We have seven points from seven games and we can still catch the teams above us - I’m not talking top two here, but certainly top three.
“The way we played in the first half was lazy and we ignored the flanks."
He threw on Daniel Bennett to help steady the ship and later introduced Matthew Abraham and Prakash Manikam, with both looking sharp, especially the former.
Sustained pressure from the Warriors might ordinarily have earned them a few more goals, but the Harimau Muda stuck to their guns to hold off a spirited Warriors FC.
At the other end, Hassan Sunny pulled off some super saves to keep his side in the game, even as the Warriors finally showed signs of posing a real threat.With Courts Young Lions their next visitors, a team the Warriors beat comfortably before meeting their Malaysian opponents here, the Harimau Muda's season may finally be taking off.