|By Khalis Rifhan
SAFFC edged one step closer to the Singapore Cup final, after seeing off Gombak United 1-0 in the semi-final first-leg tie at the Choa Chu Kang stadium.
Winger Tatsuro Inui successfully converted from the penalty spot to hand the Warriors a narrow victory over the Bulls, who were thwarted by the heroics of Shahril Jantan throughout.
Although SAFFC coach Richard Bok was satisfied with the result, he felt that his team could have ended the game with more than just a goal.
“One goal is still a lead, but of course we would like to have added another goal. [In] the first half, we played better, created more chances than the second half, which was scrappy.”
Bok was also not too pleased with the way his players conceded freekicks in dangerous areas.
“We need to be not giving away so many fouls, near to our box. Luckily Mustaqim Manzur wasn’t able to finish it when they got a freekick near our penalty box."
Bok also singled out Shahril for his performance and hope that the team will be able to survive the return tie this Saturday at the Jurong West Stadium.
“He made several good saves in the game, and hopefully he can keep the form,” said Bok about his goalkeeper. “We need the desire, hunger and determination, and try [to] hold onto the lead or take the game to Gombak.
“We have to do our best. At least we have the lead going into the second leg. We [will] try to defend well and creat chances as well.”
Gombak coach K. Balagumaran felt that his team had a decent game, but made known his displeasure at the penalty that was awarded to the home side.
"Everything went well for us except the penalty that was awarded to SAFFC," Balagumaran complained. "We created a lot of chances and played a good game.
“Daniel Bennett and Marin Vidosevic were giving us a hard time. There was an incident where we were not given a penalty but the other one incident however, when our player was elbowed, we had a freekick.”
In the latter stages of the game, substitute Jung Hee Bong was denied from close range as Shahril pulled off a stupendous save to preserve their slender lead.
Although the Korean did well to create space for himself in the box, coach Bala felt that the lanky striker should have put the ball into the back of the net.
“I feel that his header should have gone in. He could have headed it harder,” he bemoaned.
The two sides will meet again in the second leg of the semi-final this Saturday, October 6 at the Jurong West Stadium.