Shahril Ishak hat trick lifts Warriors FC into Singapore League Cup final
Warriors FC moved a step closer towards winning the Singapore League Cup for the first time after an unexpected 5-1 semifinal thrashing of three-time champions Brunei DPMM at Jalan Besar Stadium on Tuesday night.
Singapore captain Shahril Ishak continued his impressive form in 2017 with a hat trick while Emmeric Ong and Andrei Ciolacu were also on the scoresheet.
Razif Onn's side set up a Friday night final with cup holders Albirex Niigata (S).
The White Swans progressed to their third straight League Cup final after a 4-0 thumping of Geylang International in the other semifinal at Jurong East Stadium.
Warriors looked more comfortable of the two sides from the get-go, and spurned two opportunities before breaking the deadlock on 26 minutes.
Ong overlapped from his right-back position to meet Shahril's reverse pass before coolly slotting past the onrushing Awangku Mu'izzuddin for his first professional goal.
DPMM could have levelled matters in the 40th minute, but Adi Said could only prod wide from Azwan Ali's scuffed shot.
That miss proved costly as Warriors would double their lead just before half-time. Ho Wai Loon released Jordan Webb, who squared across goal from the right for Shahril to tap home.
Razif's side carried where they left off after the restart, with Romanian forward Andrei Ciolacu nodding in Webb's left-wing cross to put the Warriors 3-0 up on 53 minutes.
DPMM were deflated by then and conceded a fourth in the 70th minute. Their defence fell asleep to allow an unmarked Shahril to volley home Ho's teasing cross from the left byline for his second of the night.
Shahrazen Said pulled one back for Steve Kean's outfit seven minutes later as he converted Azwan Ali's cross-shot into an empty net.
However, the Warriors would have the last laugh with Shahril converting from 12 yards out to complete his first hat trick since 2010. That was after Hanif Hamir was adjudged to have handled Webb's cross in the area.
Warriors FC will hope to take the same scoring form into the grand final at the same venue on Friday night.
Brunei DPMM: Awangku Mu'izzuddin (GK), Haizul Rani, Hanif Hamir, Vincent Salas, Najib Tarif, Azwan Saleh (Hendra Azam 62'), Rosmin Kamis (C), Najib Tarif, Maududi Hilmi Kasmi (Helmi Zambin 62'), Azwan Ali Rahman, Shahrazen Said, Adi Said (Daud Gazale 69')
Warriors FC: Basil Chan (GK), Emmeric Ong, Kento Fukuda, Baihakki Khaizan (Aniq Iskandar 90'), Zulfadli Zainal Abidin, Syaqir Sulaiman, Ho Wai Loon, Hafiz Nor (Ridhuan Muhammad 88'), Jordan Webb, Shahril Ishak (C), Andrei Ciolacu (Shaiful Esah 82')
Kenneth Tan is a Singapore-based football writer on S.League and AFC Cup for ESPN FC and FourFourTwo. Twitter: @KennerveT