It was Home’s sixth game without a victory but the latest 2-2 draw meant the Protectors failed to reach the Singapore Cup semis for the first time since 2013 and there was only one person coach Aw blamed for that…
The result meant Home lost to the Tigers 4-3 on aggregate, after Balestier won the first leg 2-1.
The Protectors were level on aggregate before Zulfairuuz contrived to allow a tame shot by Niko Tokic slip past him despite having his angles covered.
As far as Aw was concerned, this was the main reason his side failed to maintain its impressive record in the tournament after reaching three consecutive Singapore Cup finals.
We lost only in one department today - goalkeeping.
“We lost only in one department today - goalkeeping. Other than that our outfield players were superb today,” Aw said bluntly.
“If we played badly, if we lost to a better team, okay I will accept the exit, but we lost to our goalkeeper.”
Realistically speaking, Home will only have the League Cup to contend for, as they are 16 points off the pace in the title race, with only eight games left.
While Aw hopes to win that tournament in order to salvage Home’s season, he asserted that his goalkeepers - both experienced goalkeeper Hyrulnizam Juma’at and Zulfairuuz - have to improve for that to happen.
“There was only one team in it for the win today, but when you concede easy goals from goalkeeping errors, it’s very tough for the team.
“It’s a (goalkeeping) problem we have, we need to look at this seriously. The goalkeepers need to improve and work harder now, because that’s the only problem for us right now.”
“We have only one experienced goalkeeper, and decided to groom the other two young goalkeepers, so it’s been a harsh lesson for Zulfairuuz. But he must learn it the hard way.”
Balestier coach Marko Kraljevic on the other hand was pleased with the result, conceding the Tigers had to ride out a “tough game”.
“It was very tough. We had advantage from the first game but Home had only this Cup to fight more, like us so they came in and fought,” Kraljevic said.
“It’s not easy for a club like us to play games every two to three days and I must give Home credit but we defended well.”
Main Photo: Weixiang Lim / FFT