Speaking after their League Cup victory against the Courts Young Lions, Home United head coach Lee Lim Saeng looked a relieved man after seeing his side withstand a late onslaught.
“We have a lot to thank the players for," said Lee.
"Of course, we are happy with the result. We tried to get another goal even when we were leading. But we thought that apart from scoring a lot, getting three points and winning was more important.”
With assistant coach Baek Jong Seok acting as his translator, the Korean revealed that captain Shi Jia Yi was left on the bench due to his having to sit for a paper, presumably for a night-class.
“Actually, more than a week ago, he approached us to say that he had an important exam today and he might be late (for the game), although we are not sure what exam this is,” explained the Singapore Cup winning coach.
Lee also hailed the importance of regular number one Lionel Lewis, who returned from injury to take his place between the posts again after sitting out for six matches in a row.
“He has not played for more than three weeks since he had a problem with his ankle at the Gombak match," he said.
"He is one of our most important players as a goalkeeper; even yesterday, he said he was not sure whether he could play today.
“I called him this morning to say, ‘if you play and concede, it is not your fault, it is my fault and I will take responsibility’. We watched his performance yesterday and we thought he was a lot better and could play (tonight).”
When quizzed about the situation with midfielder John Wilkinson, who was left out of the last game against Hougang United after a dispute with Lee and was also dropped entirely tonight, Home general manager S. Mahalingam stepped in to clarify the situation.
“I will make a statement- the investigation has been completed and forwarded to the management for revision,” he said ending the press conference abruptly.
Before ushering his coaches out and slamming the door to his office, he tersely added: “Thank you very much.”
Meanwhile, Young Lions coach Robin Chitrakar was surprised at the way Home folded up shop in the second half, claiming that his boys deserved to come away with a result.
“I thought the boys did enough to at least get a point," said Chitrakar.
"You can see that towards the last half hour, we were putting them on the backfoot. Home were virtually packing their whole defence and it was not easy for us.
“You can see how many men they had at the back and we were really shocked that they sat back and defended; it is rare that you see a team like Home sit back against a young side like Young Lions.”
However, he did concede that his side’s inability to take their chances cost them dearly, despite having more possession than their opponents.
“Obviously it (the performance) could have been better, especially in the attacking third," he conceded.
"We created chances; you saw Toto missing an open chance and we had a few other shots from outside the area. Lionel also pulled off a point blank save (from Benjamin Lee).
“Definitely we want to score and that is one aspect we want to improve on in the next game.”