|By Khalis Rifhan
SAFFC advanced to their first appearance in the Singapore Cup final since winning the competition in 2008, after surviving a bombardment of attacks from Gombak United in the second leg of the semi-final.
Mislav Karoglan struck from the penalty spot in the 79th minute to see the Warriors advance 2-0 on aggregate and left the Bulls cursing their luck.
The away side were quicker off the blocks, with Fazrul Nawaz rising to meet a Tatsuro Inui corner just four minutes in, although the ball bounced off his shoulder instead of his head.
The hosts, who trailed 1-0 from the first leg, knew that a spot in final was still within their reach and they nearly leveled the tie in the 19th minute.
Midfielder K. Vikraman showed nifty footwork down the left flank before crossing for Ismail Yunos, whose clever flick was volleyed just mere inches over the bar by Mustaqim Manzur.
A few minutes later, the Bulls were left frustrated after the flag was raised on Hafiz Rahim just as the winger was set to break clear.
Julien Durand had earlier breached the Warriors defence, but lost control of the ball as he approached the penalty area.
The loose ball was picked up by Hafiz, but the referee blew for an offside and denied him the chance to advance further.
SAFFC were denied by an offside decision themselves on the half-hour mark, as the whistle cut short Karoglan's joy after he turned in a freekick from set-piece specialist Inui.
Ten minutes from the restart, the spotlight again fell n assistant referee Ronnie Koh as he made a very dubious call.
Warriors goalkeeper, Shahril Jantan had punched the ball unconvincingly and substitute Jung Hee Bong pounced to head the loose ball into the back of the net, but the flag was raised for Gombak skipper Obadin Aikhena being in an offside position, despite him apparently not interfering with play.
Eleven minutes from time, the Bulls did themselves in as Ismail Yunos misjudged the bounce of the ball under no pressure, which wound up hitting the defender’s hand.
Inui's penalty had proved the difference between the two sides in the first leg, and it was deja vu for Gombak as Karoglan made no mistake from the spot and booked the Warriors' place in the final on October 28 at the Jalan Besar Stadium.