|By Teng Kiat
With a two-goal lead at the half-time interval, Warriors FC was seemingly cruising to a victory against Kitchee SC of Hong Kong in their AFC Cup Group E clash on Tuesday night at the Jalan Besar Stadium.
However, a cataclysmic collapse in the second half allowed their visitors back into the game as they equalized within six minutes of the restart, before scoring twice more to condemn the hosts to their second defeat in as many games in the competition.
A downbeat V. Selvaraj claimed after the game that his side “lost concentration” and suffered from miscommunication, which was “definitely unacceptable”.
“We conceded two or three quick goals [and]I believe we lost concentration at those points [in time],” he said.
“They [Kitchee] stayed focused in those 10, 15 minutes [and] they were calm, they added numbers in attack because they were two goals down.
“I think we are liable in these kinds of situations because it has happened before [and] I am trying to work on it.”
The Warriors coach singled out Kitchee’s Spanish trio of Fernando Recio, Pablo Counago and Jordi Paramo as the players who “raised the level” of their play, but also pointed to the unavailability of defensive midfielder Kazuyuki Toda and fullback Ruzaini Zainal as part of the reasons for their poor defending.
The former Singapore international was however upbeat about his side’s chances of progressing to the next round, despite the two defeats.
“Definitely I believe we still have a chance [of progressing],” he asserted.
“We have four more matches and it’s not that we are not scoring; we are still scoring, but we just need to stay focused for all the other four matches and hope we can come up with something.
“I still believe we stand a good chance of qualification.”
His counterpart, Josep Balague, revealed that he told his team to just play their game during the break and that they would score if they played well.
“I think we started playing well and we started to control the game [in the second half],” he said.
“We started to play the way that we can: using the ball, and keeping the ball a lot. After 45 minutes, we scored two goals and the confidence [levels went up].”
The Spaniard was adamant that their aim was to qualify for the next round, but cautioned that his side had to take things “step by step” after their second successive win.
“Our objective is to go to the next round,” Balague declared.
“It’s not easy, it’s just two games and there are four more [to play]. Of course, it is important to start winning. [Now that we have] six points, after this we have more confidence [to win our games].
“Step by step, we need to work very hard and win more games to be in the last 16.”