Home edge Jaguars in cup final warm-up; Balestier cruise

Home United warmed up for next Friday’s RHB Singapore Cup final with a 1-0 win over Tanjong Pagar United in the Great Eastern-YEO’s S.League on Wednesday.

Both sides, who are guaranteed top-half finishes in the league this season, will meet again in nine days’ time to do battle for Singaporean football’s premier cup competition.

And it was the Protectors who took the honours in Wednesday’s dress rehearsal at the Queenstown Stadium; Masrezwan Masturi scoring the only goal of the game six minutes before the break to hand his side the three points.

The result also means that Home only need to avoid defeat in their final game against Albirex Niigata (S) to finish second behind champions Tampines Rovers.

In Wednesday’s other game, Balestier Khalsa stayed on course for their best-ever performance in the S.League after claiming a 3-0 win over Woodlands Wellington at the Toa Payoh Stadium.

Having already claimed their first major piece of silverware earlier this season by winning the Starhub League Cup, the Tigers are now certain to improve on last season’s sixth-place finish.

Balestier captain Paul Cunningham handed them the lead after ten minutes when he headed home a flick-on from Obadin Aikhena, before Qiu Li added a second in the 72nd minute after cutting in from the left and scoring with a neat finish at the near post.

Ten minutes from time, Qiu added a second – his 12th league goal of the year – to wrap up the three points for the hosts.

The victory was enough to keep Balestier in fourth, three points above Woodlands with one round remaining.

Tanjong Pagar United vs Home United

Tanjong Pagar United: Aurelien Herisson, K. Vikraman, Walid Lounis, Anthony Aymard, Hafiz Osman, Ahmad Latiff, Zulfadhli Emran, Hanafi Salleh, Asraf Rashid, Kamel Ramdani, Monsef Zerka.

Home United: Shahril Jantan, Ismail Yunos, Noh Rahman (Sevki Sha’ban 54’), Sirina Camara, Juma’at Jantan, Nor Azli Yusoff, Song Ui-young, Masrezwan Masturi (Firdaus Idros 80’), Hafiz Rahim, Jordan Webb (Lee Kwan-woo 76’), Kwon Da-kyung.

Balestier Khalsa vs Woodlands Wellington

Balestier Khalsa: Zaiful Nizam, Ruhaizad Ismail (Rasmus Fristedt 86’), Obadin Aikhena, Paul Cunningham, Syed Thaha, Ridwan Jamil, Shafuan Sutohmoh (Patrick Paran 81’), Park Kang-jin, Kim Min-ho, Hamqaamal Shah (Ahmad Syahir 75’), Shafuan Sutohmoh.

Woodlands Wellington: Nazri Sabri, Hidhir Hasbiallah (Farouq Farkhan 62’), Shahril Alias, Shariff Samat, Rosman Sulaiman, Atsushi Shimono, Cho Sung-hwan, Ang Zhiwei (Fadhil Noh 76’), Theeraweekin Seehawong (Oswind Suriya 36’), Chang Jo-yoon, Moon Soon-ho.

Wednesday’s Great Eastern-YEO’s S.League Results

Balestier Khalsa 3-0 Woodlands Wellington

Tanjong Pagar United 0-1 Home United

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Ashri, Safwan added to Malaysia U-23s for SEA Games warm-up

Malaysia Under-23 coach Ong Kim Swee has added two players to his squad for the upcoming Mekong Region Invitational BIDC Cup in Cambodia from November 2 to 10.

As reported in The Star, Sarawak winger Ashri Chuchu and ATM defender Safwan Hasyim have both been added to Ong’s squad, taking the total number of players involved to 26.

The Malaysia U-23s, who will also take on the Jordan Under-23 side in two friendlies on November 12 and 14, will leave for the six-team tournament on Thursday and will initially face Cambodia and Laos in Group B.

Group A comprises of Thailand, Vietnam and Myanmar.

Ong is currently preparing his side for the Southeast Asian (SEA) Games in Myanmar, where the Malaysians will be looking to win the gold medal for the third consecutive tournament.

As expected, the majority of Ong’s roster hails from his Harimau Muda A side, including centre-back Amer Saidin, winger Wan Zaharulnizam and forward Rozaimi Abdul Rahman.

The SEA Games, which will take place in December, is also set to be the final major competition that will see Fadhli Shas and Irfan Fazail represent the age-group side, after both were unveiled as Darul Takzim players last Sunday.

Five players currently plying their trade in the Malaysian leagues have also been given the nod, including Terengganu full-back Zubir Azmi, Perak midfielder Nasir Basharuddin and Negeri Sembilan winger S. Sivanesan, who scored five goals in this year’s Malaysia Cup, while there were also places for Harimau Muda B stars Ridzuan Abdunloh and Wan Ahmad Amirzafran.

There are a number of notable absentees from the latest squad that are expected to be in contention for a place in the SEA Games team, including Kelantan defender Nik Shahrul Azim and Sarawak anchorman Junior Eldstal.

However, talented winger Wan Zack Haikal, who is currently contracted to Japan Football League outfit FC Ryukyu, is likely to miss out after picking up an anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) injury at the start of October.

Goalkeepers: Izham Tarmizi, Farhan Abu Bakar, Firdaus Muhammad (all Harimau Muda A)

Defenders: Zubir Azmi (Terengganu), Safwan Hasyim (ATM), Fadhli Shas (Darul Takzim), Shahrul Saad, Hazwan Abdul Rahman, Amer Saidin, Kenny Pallraj (all Harimau Muda A), Wan Ahmad Amirzafran (Harimau Muda B)

Midfielders: Nasir Basharuddin (Perak), S. Sivanesan (Negeri Sembilan), Ashri Chuchu (Sarawak), Irfan Fazail (Darul Takzim), Wan Zaharulnizam, D. Saarvindran, Azrif Nashrulhaq, Saiful Ridzuan Selamat, Syahid Zaidon (all Harimau Muda A)

Forwards: Thamil Arasu, Ahmad Hazwan, Ferris Danial, Rozaimi Abdul Rahman, Izzaq Faris Ramlan (all Harimau Muda A), Ridzuan Abdunloh (Harimau Muda B)

Hougang continue resurgence with Geylang rout

(HOU: Jerome Baker 12′; Fazli Jaffar 47′; Azhar Sairudin 58′; Mamadou Diallo 63′ GEY: Norihiro Kawakami 52′)

Hougang United claimed a 4-1 victory in the Great Eastern-YEO’s S.League for the second week running after thumping Geylang International at the Hougang Stadium on Tuesday.

Fresh from last Thursday’s convincing win over Harimau Muda, the Cheetahs wasted no time in taking the lead against Geylang as Jerome Baker opened the scoring in the 12th minute; breaking the opposition offside trap and rounding Takuma Ito before firing into the unguarded net.

Fazli Jaffar then struck two minutes after the break to make it 2-0, but Japanese defender Norihiro Kawakami netted his third goal of the campaign in the 52nd minute to keep the visitors firmly in the contest.

However, Hougang’s two-goal advantage was restored just six minutes later when Azhar Sairudin found the back of the net, before Mamadou Diallo struck with a ferocious strike from the edge of the area to grab the hosts’ fourth of the evening and wrap up the three points.

The Cheetahs end their campaign away to Courts Young Lions next Tuesday, while Geylang will be hoping to finish the year on a positive note away to DPMM FC.

Hougang United: Fadhil Salim, Faizal Amir, Syaqir Sulaiman, Igor Cerina, Lau Meng Meng, Nurhilmi Jasni, Thomas Beattie, Azhar Sairudin (Fazly Hasan 68’), Fazli Jaffar, Mamadou Diallo (Basit Hamid 73’), Jerome Baker (Fairoz Hasan 80’).

Geylang International: Takuma Ito, Wahyudi Wahid, Delwinder Singh, Norihiro Kawakami, Jalal, Taufiq Ghani (Fuad Ramli 57’), Wyldan Wisam (Nurhazwan Norasikin 70’), Yasir Hanapi, Stefan Milojevic (Ahmad Khidir 82’), Noor Ali, Jozef Kaplan.

Buriram crowned 2013 Thai Premier League champions

Buriram United sealed the 2013 Thai Premier League title with a game to spare on Sunday evening after claiming a 2-0 win over Bangkok United at the Thai-Japanese Stadium.

Following a goalless first half, Jirawat Makarom fired the Thunder Castle ahead three minutes after the break, before Spanish defender Osmar Barba added a second in the 85th minute to seal the victory.

The result was enough to hand them the crown as it allowed them to establish an unassailable five-point lead over closest challengers Muangthong United, who could only claim a 2-2 draw at BEC Tero Sasana.

It initially looked as though the Twin Qilins would keep the title race going for another week, as they took the lead at the 72-years Anniversary Stadium in the 25th minute thanks to Teerasil Dangda’s opener.

However, the hosts fought back and pulled level in the 53rd minute through an effort from Wichaya Dechmitr, before Chanathip Songkrasin put them in front seven minutes after the hour mark.

Macedonia international Mario Gjurovski did manage to make it 2-2 five minutes later and while that strike proved enough to prevent Muangthong from falling to defeat, it was not enough to see them relinquish their title to Buriram.

Third-placed Chonburi bounced back from last week’s shock defeat to Police United with a crushing 4-0 home win over Samut Songkhram.

Although it took Thiago Cunha just 12 minutes to break the deadlock for the Sharks, they struggled to break down the opposition defence until Pipob On-mo grabbed a second in the 70th minute.

But from then on, there was only going to be one winner and a brace from Leandro Assumpcao in the final 12 minutes helped finish off a fairly commanding display from Chonburi.

Over at the Leo Stadium, a brace from Chatree Chimtale helped Bangkok Glass to a 2-1 victory over Chainat to keep alive their hopes of pipping Suphanburi to fourth spot.

After both sides had failed to find the breakthrough in the opening 45, the Thai international struck to put the Glass Rabbits ahead in the 68th minute, only for Phuwadol Suwannachart to equalise for the visitors four minutes later.

But in the second minute of injury-time, Chatree grabbed his tenth goal of the campaign to hand the hosts all three points.

At the other end of the table, Chiangrai United completed a miraculous revival as they guaranteed their top-flight status with a 1-0 win at Pattaya United.

Just over a month ago, it seemed destined that the Beetles would be relegated but a stunning run of four wins in their last five games, including Sunday’s win which came courtesy of Anon Sangsanoi’s 67th-minute penalty, has seen them avoid relegation.

Instead, it now looks likely that Pattaya will be playing in the Division 1 League in 2014 as they have a far worse goal difference than Ratchaburi, Songkhla United and Samut Songkhram, the only teams they can still finish level on points with.

Ratchaburi gave their hopes of avoiding relegation a real boost with a 1-0 win over Police, courtesy of a penalty from Douglas Cardozo in the 50th minute, while Juninho’s ninth-minute strike helped TOT condemn Songkhla to a 1-0 defeat.

In Sunday’s final game, Army United beat Osotspa Saraburi 1-0 in a battle between two mid-table sides; the only goal of the match coming two minutes before the break from Chaiwat Nak-iem.

Sunday’s Thai Premier League Results

Bangkok Glass 2-1 Chainat

Army United 1-0 Osotspa Saraburi

Chonburi 4-0 Samut Songkhram

Ratchaburi 1-0 Police United

Pattaya United 0-1 Chiangrai United

Bangkok United 0-2 Buriram United

TOT 1-0 Songkhla United

BEC Tero Sasana 2-2 Muangthong United

Darul Takzim unveil new signings Fadhli, Irfan

Malaysia Super League giants Darul Takzim have confirmed the signings of Fadhli Shas and Irfan Fazail from Harimau Muda after both were unveiled by the club on Sunday.

Both players have been on the books of Harimau Muda since 2008, after graduating from the Bukit Jalil Sports School, and are expected to play key roles in the Under-23 side that will be looking to defend their gold medal at the upcoming Southeast Asian (SEA) Games in Myanmar.

Fadhli, the more famous of the two, is already a regular for the Malaysia national team despite only being 22, and was a regular feature in coach K. Rajagobal’s starting XI at both the 2010 and 2012 AFF Suzuki Cups.

The classy defender’s move to the Larkin Stadium is likely to see him link up with Aidil Zafuan in the heart of the Darul Takzim defence, given they have been the first-choice centre-back partnership for Harimau Malaya over the past year.

Irfan, on the other hand, is yet to be capped by the senior side but has made over 30 appearances for the U-23s, and is widely regarded as a star in the making.

The central midfielder, like Fadhli, only turns 23 next year but has already shown excellent maturity during his time with Harimau Muda and could replace Malaysia captain Safiq Rahim as Harimau Selatan’s playmaker-in-chief, given the ex-Selangor star had an awful season following his big-money move and is rumoured to be on his way out.

Harimau Muda coach Ong Kim Swee, who has played a vital role in developing Malaysia’s most-talented youngsters over the past few years, was quick to give them his blessings regarding the new chapter in their careers.

“Congratulations [to] Irfan & Fadhli who [have] signed for JDT [Darul Takzim],” he tweeted.

“May the knowledge and exposure [they have] gained from HMA [Harimau Muda] continue [to] be practiced.”

Following a disappointing campaign that saw them finish third in the league and eliminated at the quarter-final stage of the Malaysia Cup, Darul Takzim will be coached by Spaniard Cesar Ferrando Jimenez next season.

Already, they have sealed the services of ex-Argentina international Pablo Aimar and they continue to be heavily linked to LIONSXII vice-captain Hariss Harun.

Pahang set up Kelantan final after Sarawak draw

(SAR: Bobby Gonzales 32′ PAH: Fauzi Roslan 74′)

Pahang will meet Kelantan in the Malaysia Cup final after a 1-1 draw at Sarawak on Saturday was enough to see them win their last-four tie 4-2 on aggregate.

Trailing 3-1 from last weekend’s first leg, it was the Crocs who broke the deadlock at the Sarawak State Stadium two minutes after the half-hour mark, when Bobby Gonzales met Joseph Kalang Tie’s perfectly-weighted cross with a glancing header into the top corner.

With an away goal also in their grasp, Sarawak were aware another goal – and a 2-0 win on the night – would be enough to see them advance to the final.

However, despite carving out their fair share of chances, they were just unable to find a way past the resilient opposition defence.

And in the 74th minute, Pahang ended the hosts’ hopes of a comeback when Fauzi Roslan, seconds after coming on for the injured Matias Conti, was picked out by Razman Roslan’s left-wing delivery and sent a looping header past Sani Anuar Kamsani.

Tok Gajah will now meet Kelantan in the final on November 3, after the Red Warriors kept alive their hopes of a successful title defence with a 4-3 aggregate victory over ATM.

Sarawak: Sani Anuar Kamsani, Mafry Balang (Azizan Baba 76’), Hairol Mokhtar (Shahrol Saperi 81’), Ronny Harun, Ramesh Lai, Ashri Chuchu (Zamri Morshidi 58’), Guy Bwele, Junior Eldstal, Joseph Kalang Tie, Muamer Salibasic, Bobby Gonzales.

Pahang: Khairul Azhan Khalid, Jalaluddin Jaafar (Saifulnizam Miswan 80’), Damion Stewart, Razman Roslan, Shahrizan Salleh, R. Surendran, Amirulhadi Zainal, Azidan Sarudin (Faizol Hussein 64’), R. Gopinathan, Azamuddin Akil, Matias Conti (Fauzi Roslan 73’).

Champions Tampines held by ten-man Tanjong Pagar

(TAM: Khairul Amri 48′ TAN: Monsef Zerka 62′)

Tampines Rovers were presented with the 2013 Great Eastern-YEO’s S.League title on Saturday but were unable to celebrate with a win as they were held to a 1-1 draw by Tanjong Pagar United.

In their second game after they were confirmed as champions for a third straight season, the Stags took the lead at the Clementi Stadium in the 48th minute after Khairul Amri went on a penetrating run down the left, before cutting inside and curling his shot into the bottom corner.

Tanjong Pagar did however manage to pull level two minutes after the hour mark when Monsef Zerka found space inside the area and struck with a clinical finish, claiming his 12th goal of the campaign in the process.

The visitors were then dealt a blow in the 76th minute when they were reduced to ten men after Zahid Ahmad was shown a second yellow, but they did enough to hold on to a point.

The result leaves Tanjong Pagar in sixth place, a point behind both Balestier Khalsa and Woodlands Wellington, while Tampines have an eight-point lead over Home United with just two rounds remaining.

Tampines Rovers: Andre Martins, Anaz Hadee, Jufri Taha, Kunihiro Yamashita, Ruzaini Zainal, Fahrudin Mustafic, Firdaus Kasman, Vitor Ladeiras, Jamil Ali (Diogo Caramelo 65’), Ismadi Mukhtar (Ahmed Fahmie 72’), Khairul Amri.

Tanjong Pagar United: Aurelien Herisson, Hafiz Osman, Walid Lounis, Anthony Aymard, Zahid Ahmad, Ahmad Latiff, Hanafi Salleh, Zulfadhli Emran (K. Vikraman 72’), Asraf Rashid, Kamel Ramdani, Monsef Zerka.