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'Look at my wide smile!' - Gombak coach Balagumaran delighted with his team's progress into the quarter-finals of the Singapore Cup

'Look at my wide smile!' - Gombak coach Balagumaran delighted with his team's progress into the quarter-finals of the Singapore Cup

Zeng Liwei

He was pleased with his tactical switches, particularly with first goal scorer Chris Anderson, paid off as his team recorded a 3-0 win over Harimau Muda

“It was a big gamble to bring Chris in as right-back as Adrian was injured and we had initially planned to put him as centre-half,” the relieved former national youth coach told Singapore after the preliminary round tie.

“Chris told me he used to play at this position with his former club Burnley, and I selected him as he is more composed on the ball and has better distribution.”

He was also delighted his first senior club cup outing with the Bulls began successfully as they erased their previous losing streak against foreign opponents in this competition.

“Look at my wide smile!” he grinned.

“This was my first experience in the Cup and I was pleased to get off with a win.

“We had a good draw for this tournament and I told the boys to be more relaxed and enjoy the game.

“It had a psychological effect on the team as they released themselves from the burden with positive results.”

While Balagumaran was happy with his first cup game victory, his eyes remained focused on getting his team up the positions in the league after the international break.

“We are still looking at the second round of games that are coming up for us,” he noted.

“Other teams have watched us and will be strengthening their squads during the transfer window, so we have to improve our game, especially in finishing and communication.”

His Harimau Muda B counterpart Ismail Ibrahim felt Gombak gave them a deserved beating for the mistakes they displayed despite the reinforcement of two experienced seniors from the S.League side in the line-up.

“I hope my boys have learnt something tonight,” he lamented.

“My team played really badly, even worse than the 3-1 loss we suffered against Johor FA [in the Malaysian Premier League game on Monday].

“We could not hold the ball, kept losing possession, gave them too much space and had no chance to earn set-plays, contrary to what we had practiced for yesterday.”

The former Selangor FA midfielder also emphasised the need for continuity if his team were to replicate the successes of the senior side in Singapore in the near future.

“Unlike previous Harimau teams, mine consists of a mixture of academy players and others drafted in from other state teams only this year,” he noted.

“If there is such a change every year, we will not have any stability. It takes at least three to four years to build up a strong side.”