|By Khalis Rifhan
The 2013 RHB Singapore Cup has by far been the most exciting and entertaining in recent years, with a new champion set to be crowned after holders Warriors FC and last season's fellow finalists Tampines Rovers were knocked out of the tournament at the first hurdle.
The victors from the preliminary round found out their opponents for the quarter-finals stage on Tuesday morning, with the draw taking place at the Albert Court Village Hotel.
In Pool B, United Football League (UFL) clubs Loyola Meralco Sparks and Global FC have the opportunity to set up an all-Philippines semi-final after they avoided each other in the draw.
Loyola were drawn against 1998 Singapore Cup champions Tanjong Pagar United, while Global will have to navigate past Vjeran Simunic’s Brunei DPMM.
In Pool A, five-time winners Home United will face a tricky encounter against Geylang International while giant-killers Hougang United, who defeated Tampines in the previous round, will battle it out with Balestier Khalsa, who have set a target of a cup title this season.
Speaking after the draw, Balestier team manager Kevin Wee claimed that the playing field was more or less level from the quarters onwards.
“There is no easy draw in the quarter-finals as everyone has a fair chance of going to the next round and anything can happen in a cup game," he said.
“That is one of the targets we have and [we are] hopeful to get a cup but again, we are taking each game [one] at a time.”
Also looking to capture the coveted cup title is Eagles head coach Vedhamuthu Kanan, who is determined to overcome the Protectors and go all the way to the final.
“My team is now at their peak and we lost only once in the last seven games, which was against Tampines and we conceded that goal [Jamil Ali’s winner in the 62nd minute] due to an error," he confidently said.
“I wanted to avoid Home United but they are in our pool and we can’t avoid them.
“If we win the quarter-final, we will meet either Balestier or Hougang. If we can’t beat Home, we don’t deserve to be champions, so it is good to meet them now as it gives us more confidence and hopefully we will reach the final.”
The Singapore Cup quarter final will be a two-legged tie with away goals not coming into play. Matches will be held from July 22 till July 29.
Geylang International vs Home United
Hougang United vs Balestier Khalsa
Tanjong Pagar United vs Loyola Meralco Sparks
Global vs Brunei DPMM