Gombak United coach Balagumaran revealed that he was prepared to face a weakened Tampines Rovers side but admitted that although his opponents ended up fielding a strong team, they did not really play to their best.
“There were reports before the game that said Tampines is going to rest several of their key players but when I looked at their line-up before the game, I think that they also didn’t want to finish the group as runners-up,” said the Bulls' coach.
“I feel that Tampines did not really pressure us too much in the game. I think that they wanted to keep their players fit and fresh from any injury going into the next game.”
Seeing how Tampines were never at full gear in the game, Bala felt that his team was the better of the two and was satisfied that they had achieved what they had set out to do in the competition.
“When we were leading in the game, we were the better side and then we conceded the equaliser," he added.
"I did not expect the goal to come like this. But besides that, I think overall we did well.
“For us, we only needed a draw to qualify for the quarter-finals and we achieved our objectives.”
Bala also felt that his team was unlucky to concede an own goal: “It’s unfortunate to concede the own goal. I think it’s a case of miscommunication and also the players' positioning. I did not really see it. I thought it was a clean head to the goalkeeper but when I turned back to look, it was a goal.”
Steven Tan on the other hand felt that his team was not able to perform to their best due to the poor playing surface.
“The field is quite heavy and it creates problems and difficulties for us to play in and we also had several bad passes because the pitch is in a bad condition,” said the former Singapore international.
“Furthermore, Gombak had pressed us very hard and did not allow us to play our game.”
When asked about Noh Alam Shah’s performance so far for Tampines, which has not been particularly impressive, Tan said: “He could not get the ball and he continuously asked for the ball from his teammate. When he could not get it, he keeps dropping back deeper and deeper and it was not very effective.”