Home stun S.League champs DPMM to make Singapore Cup final
Protectors see off S.League champions DPMM to set up final with Albirex
SEMI-FINAL, 2ND LEG
HOME UNITED 2
(Azhar Sairudin 22, Imran Sahib 80)
BRUNEI DPMM FC 0
l Home United win 4-3 on aggregate
With six titles to their name, Home United are the most successful club in RHB Singapore Cup history, but it did look unlikely that they would stand a chance of winning it again this year.
After all, they entered last night's semi-final, second-leg match trailing 3-2 from the first leg and they were up against newly-crowned Great Eastern-Yeo's S.League champions Brunei DPMM.
But, being the cup specialists they are, the Protectors defied the odds and claimed a 2-0 victory at Yishun Stadium last night to win the tie 4-3 on aggregate and seal their progress to the Singapore Cup final for the third year running.
Standing between them and a seventh title on Friday will be Albirex Niigata, who saw off Global FC of the Philippines 3-1 on aggregate yesterday.
Albirex will be hoping to make it a Cup double after winning The New Paper League Cup earlier this year.
Home coach Philippe Aw, in his first season in charge, is hoping his players can reap the rewards for what has been a positive year.
"We came into this season with the aim of grooming youth, but we said that doesn't mean we're not aiming for silverware," Aw said.
"With a mix of experience and youth, we took a while to find our feet, but I'm glad we're into the final and I hope to end on a winning note.
"Of course, we're not happy to have finished the league in sixth place but, looking at performances, the boys have been fantastic in every single game.
"They really deserve something for all the hard work and beautiful football they've played, and to cap it off with a cup final win would be fantastic."
Chasing a one-goal deficit, Home showed no lack of desire from the first whistle and opened the scoring in the 22nd minute.
After a Juma'at Jantan cross had caused havoc inside the DPMM box, Ken Ilso's shot was blocked but fell invitingly into the path of Azhar Sairudin, who made no mistake in planting his shot past Wardun Yussof.
DPMM responded strongly, gaining the ascendancy in the second half but, just when it looked like they were about to hit back, the hosts struck again with 10 minutes remaining.
Stanely Ng whipped in a cross from the left for substitute Imran Sahib to finish at the far post.
The Bruneian outfit thought they had forced extra time when Shahrazen Said nodded home an Azwan Saleh free-kick in the 87th minute, but their celebrations were cut short by the linesman's flag for offside.
Unable to hide his disappointment at the final whistle, DPMM coach Steve Kean claimed his side had every reason to feel hard done by, and not just from the disallowed goal.
The Scot said: "I haven't seen it again but, if it's offside, it's a remarkable bit of vision.
"My initial thoughts are that the man at the back post stepped up but the one at the front post didn't move and he was still level.
"At the end of the day, I can't fault the players considering our schedule, which I'm still bemused about.
"I'm not sure why Home's (final league game) wasn't played on the same day as ours, to make sure everybody has a fair chance.
"It wasn't a level playing field and you can see we were pretty fatigued in the first half, but somehow the boys found something to really give it a go in the second half."
● HOME UNITED: Shahril Jantan, Juma'at Jantan, Abdil Qaiyyim, Sirina Camara, Sufianto Salleh (Nur Hizami 82), Yasir Hanapi, Kamel Ramdani, Stanely Ng, Azhar Sairudin, Fazli Ayob (Imran Sahib 67), Ken Ilso.
● BRUNEI DPMM: Wardun Yussof, Helmi Zambin (Najib Tarif 87), Boris Raspudic, Brian McLean, Sairol Sahari (Azwan Saleh 5), Rosmin Kamis, Aminuddin Zakwan, Joe Gamble, Paulo Sergio, Maududi Hilmi (Shahrazen Said 87), Rafael Ramazotti.
● TNP MAN OF THE MATCH: Yasir Hanapi (Home United)