The Malaysian side will have to continue their search for their first S.League points of the season as their opponents ground out their first victory in seven games
The victory brought to an end a wretched run of six games without victory, with four of those being losses. The Tigers came into the match on the back of a 4-1 thrashing by Brunei DPMM, but found reprieve against the S.League’s cellar dwellers.
“We scored the goals, we got the win; it was not a beautiful game and we can do much better, but we needed these three points,” the German-Croat coach told reporters after the game.
The 48-year-old admitted that the losses had affected the players’ morale as they put in a “shaky” display, where the passing was was not as good as he would have liked.
But it ultimately did not matter against the young Malaysians, who could not break down the hosts’ defence despite enjoying arguably an equal share of possession.
Kim Min-ho wasted a chance to calm the Tigers’ nerves early on, dragging a shot wide from a tight angle after being released by Goran Ljubojevic’s through ball on four minutes.
The Young Tigers rallied and forced Zaiful Nizam into a couple of stops, but their resistance was broken midway through the half when Zulkiffli Hassim easily slotted home after a cross ran all the way through to him at the far post.
The visitors suffered a second blow when Ljubojevic beat Ilham Amirullah to a ball in the box and killed it with the deftest of touches, before pushing it past the hapless goalkeeper and tapping home his seventh league goal.
The Young Tigers gave a better account of themselves after the break but were utterly lacking ideas when they moved into the attacking third, failing to pose any genuine threat to Zaiful.
The final whistle signalled a 10th consecutive loss for the visitors, whose coach Razip Ismail lamented their inability to finish the opportunities that they carved out in the first half.
“My have players found it difficult in every match we have played,” he acknowledged. “Every game is like that, we are controlling it; you look at the stats and we are not far from our opponent but the only thing is that the opponents took their chances well. From nowhere, they scored the two goals,so it’s quite disappointing.”
But despite the injuries afflicting his squad, Razip vowed that they would press on in their hunt for their first points of the campaign.
“We have to carry on, keep believing and keep working,” he asserted. “We have to improve everything. We are not going to give up.”
With Kraljevic indicating that star playmaker Park Kang Jin was on course for a return and a nine-day break until their next match, captain Paul Cunningham is looking forward to improved fortunes in a “winnable” series of upcoming games.
“We’ve got Hougang United, Courts Young Lions, Woodlands Wellington and Tanjong Pagar United up next, so hopefully we can go on a [good] run,” he stated.