S-League Recap: Warriors claim last-gasp title as veteran Aleksandar Duric wraps up storied career

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Singapore - Aleksandar Duric

Fans waited until the final day of the 2014 season for a winner to be declared as Warriors FC clinched the title with a 1-0 win over Albirex Niigata on Friday night. The title was sealed by Hafiz Rahim’s poaching effort early into the second half. The win saw Warriors achieve a record ninth title; it was their first since 2009 when they were known as Armed Forces FC.

Alex Weaver’s side was not guaranteed the trophy until the final whistle, however, as leaders on goal difference before the final day, Brunei DPMM, lost 2-1 to a Tampines Rovers side that was seeing off a superstar of Singaporean football in .

After a career spanning three decades, three continents and even an appearance in the 1992 Summer Olympics canoeing competition, the 44-year-old Bosnian-born striker adopted Singapore as his home over a decade ago. He scored 321 goals over 519 S-League appearances along with many individual and club accolades, as well as an AFF Suzuki Cup title with his adopted country in 2012.

Since the announcement of his retirement, adulation has poured out both in celebration of his career and of him as a person. Singaporean Minister for Culture, Community and Youth, Minister Lawrence Wong, said of the great: “Duric is more than just a great professional footballer and a lethal striker. We embrace him as a son of Singapore, because he has a big heart for the community and nation.”

In the other game on the S-League’s final day, Balestier Khalsa FC hosted Home United in a teaser for next week’s Singapore Cup final at Jalan Besar Stadium. The hosts snatched a late 1-0 win through Bruno Castanheira after Lee Kwan-Woo had missed a penalty after the half hour mark.