Home United breathed life into their AFC Cup campaign after beating Lao Toyota 1-0 yesterday, but concerns linger over their ability to score.
The win, courtesy of a header from defender Abdil Qaiyyim before 1,227 fans at Jalan Besar Stadium, saw the Protectors create enough chances to put the Group H fixture to bed long before they had to settle for a solitary strike.
Without injured attackers Shahril Ishak (ankle) and Song Ui-young (groin) and wide midfielder Hafiz Nor playing as a makeshift striker, Home’s bluntness up front could yet return to haunt them later in the competition.
“With the chances we had, another goal would make this game safe for the team if we had a clinical finisher tonight,” rued Protectors’ coach Saswadimata Dasuki. “The main thing now is to go to Laos (on April 17) and get the three points. After that, we will go on against Kaya (Iloilo) and (PSM) Makassar.
Home had earlier drawn 1-1 with Indonesia Liga 1 runners-up Makassar and lost 5-0 to Philippine National League runners-up Kaya. The win moved the Singapore Premier League runners-up to third in Group H on four points, one behind leaders Kaya and Makassar.
Against Lao Toyota, Hafiz, Adam Swandi, Izzdin Shafiq and Aqhari Abdullah all had shooting opportunities, but were unable go beat goalkeeper Outthilath Nammakhoth.
The game also became a duel between Hami Syahin and the Laotian goalkeeper as the midfielder resorted to taking shots from distance, but to no avail.
Home finally found the net in first-half stoppage time when left-back Ho Wai Loon floated a free kick to the far post for centre-back Abdil to head home emphatically.
Saswa said: “The most important thing is to get the three points. It was very risky at 1-0. They kept coming at us till the last minute.”
After seeing his players battle the full 90 minutes, Lao Toyota coach Jun Fukuda was disappointed, saying: “We came for three points but we couldn’t score.”
Elsewhere, Tampines Rovers thrashed Cambodian champions Nagaworld FC 5-1 in Phnom Penh to lead Group F with seven points from three games.