Disappointed Kraljevic refutes Hodak's 'park the bus' claims

Balestier Khalsa coach Marko Kraljevic was adamant that his side was not overly defensive in their last-gasp 1-0 loss against Johor Darul Ta’zim (JDT) on Tuesday night. 

Reigning RHB Singapore Cup champions Balestier put in a gritty showing against Malaysian Super League (MSL) champions JDT in their AFC Cup Group F encounter at the Jalan Besar Stadium on Tuesday night, limiting the visitors’ clear-cut chances to a premium before conceding a late Asraruddin Putra goal two minutes into injury time.

A relieved JDT coach Bojan Hodak commented at the post-match press conference that Balestier had ‘parked the bus’ and set out in a well-organised manner not to concede any goals.

However his opposite counterpart and compatriot Kraljevic would have nothing of that when informed of Hodak’s comments.

“What is this parking the bus?” he said.

“How many clear chances did they (JDT) make today?

“We did what’re supposed to do which is to defend well; when they get the ball, we must put pressure and defend as to not allow them to come into our defending third.

“In attack, there was no really good break for us and we can do better, but I don’t see any bus.”

Coming only seconds away from mustering a creditable draw before Asraruddin struck, Kraljevic lamented the fine line between victory and defeat at continental level.

“To concede the goal in injury time is very hard to take,” he said.

“We maintained the game very well, apart from the last 15 minutes where we were shaky and JDT pushed all us the way.

“They subbed in quality players which made the difference in the end. If some of our players were more composed, the match could have ended 0-0.”

Kraljevic also felt that his side could have gotten more out of the game if they had taken the few chances that came their way.

“We had three to four clear-cut chances; Fadhil (Noh) went one-on-one with their keeper in the first half and he fired over when there was a chance for a tap-in in the second half,” the 49-year-old said.

“If we were lucky, we could have scored first. Players all dream of playing against a big club with very good finances like JDT, thus in such situations, sometimes they make their decisions too quickly.”

Balestier, which are rooted to the bottom of Group F with zero points from the first two games, will next host India’s East Bengal FC the coming Tuesday, March 17, in a bid to keep their qualification hopes alive.

Photo: S.League