The match between Albirex Niigata (S) and Hougang United has been rescheduled for the 20th of November, Friday. The venue has been changed to Jurong East Stadium. Kick off remains at 7:30 pm.
Written By: Shawn Lim
Geylang International vs Hougang United
(Monday, 9 November, 7:30pm, Bedok Stadium)
Geylang International coach Jorg Steinebrunner has called on his side to finish their Great Eastern Yeo’s S.League by staying unbeaten in their last two matches in order not to finish as wooden spoonist.
The Eagles are currently on a three-match unbeaten run and have a chance to move above eight-placed Courts Young Lions if they manage to bag all three points against Hougang United at Bedok Stadium on Monday.
Having spent a majority of the season as cellar-dwellers, Steinebrunner strongly believes that the Eagles can still salvage their season by beating the Cheetahs and defending champions Warriors FC.
“There’s a difference between just saying you are confident or you actually mean it. It’s the same, you can say people have passion but either you have it or don’t have it,” the German said after his side’s 2-2 draw with Young Lions.
“In our case, you need to be confident. You need to be sometimes realistic and say what’s our chances and how you going to work things out.
“In the end of the day, if you come to play football and you step into the field without confidence, you have lost the battle anyway.”
Even though the Eagles might not have an easy time against Hougang, whom they lost 1-0 in the reverse fixture earlier this season, Steinebrunner wants his players to adopt a never-say-die attitude.
“To be honest, it doesn’t matter who we play. Even if Geylang International plays Brazil tomorrow, we know we might not stand a chance, but you should be confident to go out and play football.
“We should say “Look, when we get the ball, we should keep the ball, try to do some work and not just have 10 players behind the man..and kick the long ball and hope for the best.” “
“That was what we showed today (against Courts Young Lions), same like against (Brunei) DPMM and the second half against Home United.”
Meanwhile, Hougang’s new man at the helm, K.Balagumaran suffered a defeat in his first match as head coach, after watching his side fell to a 2-1 defeat to Harimau Muda in their previous game.
Even though the Cheetahs are winless in their past five matches and are on the verge of finishing at the bottom of the table with only two games left to play in the season, Balagumaran wants his players to play without pressure.
“I will tell the players to go and enjoy the next game, don’t put pressure on themselves. Whatever happens, just enjoy the game and the result will come,” the former Gombak United coach said after the loss to the Young Tigers.
While a victory for the Cheetahs over the Eagles will keep them in the current position, it will be a shot in the arm for the Hougang-based club in their bid to climb off the foot of the table.
Key Men to Watch
Hougang United: Nurhilmi Jasni
Currently the club’s second-top scorer in the league with five goals, the captain has been a bright spark for the Cheetahs this season, putting in consistent performances on a regular basis.
Aside from having pace to burn, Nurhilmi also has a knack for being in the right place and right time to convert goalscoring opportunities.
Geylang International: Shawal Anuar
The 24-year-old attacking midfielder has been a revelation for the Eagles since being promoted from their Prime League squad this season.
Exhibiting hard work and playmaking skills, Shawal was one of the best players on the field for Geylang against Young Lions, constantly winning challenges and even got on the scoresheet himself.
New head coach K. Balagumaran’s first game in charge of Hougang United started in the most exhilarating fashion before ending in a frustratingly disappointing manner as the Cheetahs’ final home game of the season saw them defeated by Harimau Muda. In a lightning speed sequence, Nurhilmi Jasni scored the opener in just 16 seconds from kick off only for Syafwan Syahlan to respond over the course of the game with a brace.
The result gave the visitors their first back-to-back wins since April this year. For Hougang United, this was their fourth defeat in five games and their winless streak now stretches to eight. Fail to defeat Geylang International or Albirex Niigata (S) in their final two matches and the Cheetahs will have the ignominy of ending the season in the same way they started it – with a ten games winless streak.
Following Geylang International’s draw with the Young Lions at Jalan Besar Stadium on the same evening, Hougang United are now four points adrift at the bottom of the S.League table with only two games left to play. Even a win over Geylang International in the next game might not be enough to avoid the wooden spoon.
The Line Ups
For only the second time this season, the Cheetahs had players unavailable for selection through suspensions. Muhaymin Salim and Fazli Jaffar had both collected their fourth yellow card of the season in the draw with Balestier Khalsa on Sunday. This was a particular blow for Muhaymin as he had just made his first start in 17 games, only to find himself having to sit the next one out as a disciplinary measure. Fazli Jaffar’s first two yellow cards were carried over from his short stint with Warriors in the first half of the season.
In their absence, Fareez Farhan was fielded in left midfield while Ruzaini Zainal was shifted up from right back to right midfield. Diego Gama’s return to the frontline allowed Kunihiro Yamashita to move back to his customary centreback position. In Carlos Delgado’s absence through injury, Nurhilmi partnered Atsushi Shimono in centre midfield for the second game in a row.
Harimau Muda were unavailable to select Adam Nor Azlin, Nazirul Naim and Syahrul Azwari after the trio were called up by the Malaysian national team. Wan Ahmad and Syawal Nordin were also absent after starting in the youth development side’s previous game, a 1:0 win over Home United. Top scorer Faizat Ghazali made his return to the starting line-up, alongside Irfan Zakaria, Azrul Nizam and Amirul Ikmal.
The First Half
From the kick off, Gama rolled the ball forward towards Fareez, who raced down the left flank before turning past Amirul Ikmal at the touchline and racing further towards goal. At the edge of the penalty box, Fareez pulled a cut back cross to a leaping Nurhilmi. Deflecting off the foot of Kenny Pallraj, the ball rolled into the back of the net to the bewilderment of a Harimau Muda side that had yet to touch the ball. It had taken 16 seconds for Hougang United to get the lead and the breathtaking speed had clearly caught the visitors off guard.
The game’s pace was frenetic in the opening period as one close chance followed another. Three minutes after the goal, Nurhilmi almost turned from scorer to provider with a through ball past Azrul to Sotirovic. Evading Annas Rahmat, Sotirovic unleashed a curler that prompted an acrobatic save from Ilham Amirullah. Akhir Bahari had the visitors’ first attempt at goal in the 7th minute when he found space in the box but his shot was blasted wide off the near post. Two minutes later, Ilham was unable to hold onto Sotirovic’s long range effort but the goalkeeper managed to clear the ball away before Gama could get to it. Sotirovic then headed a ball just wide from a cross delivered by Nurhilmi in the 11th minute.
Ruzaini did well in the 28th minute to dribble the ball into the box past Azrul and Akhir but his shot was safely collected by Ilham. More threatening was the corner from Ruzaini three minutes later that saw the ball floating from Yamashita’s head to Yuki Uchiyama’s head to the tip of Ilham’s fingers for another corner. Sotirovic then had a close chance to double the home side’s lead when he went one on one with the goalkeeper after being played through by Gama. Ilham – who performed well despite the opening goal – managed to clear the ball before Sotirovic could muster a shot.
Against the run of play, Harimau Muda then found an equalizer from a cross delivered by Faizat in the 35th minute. Akhir Bahari’s header struck the far post and the ball rebounded for Syafwan Syahlan to tap it in at close range. The celebration was muted as Akhir had injured himself with an awkward fall and was eventually substituted off for Ridzuan Abdunloh. In between the goal and the substitution, while the visitors had a one man disadvantage, Hougang United came close to regaining the lead after Gama received the ball in a dangerous position near the penalty spot but his shot was scuffed wide.
The Second Half
Harimau Muda dominated the game for a short while after the interval with Ridhuan Barudin forced to make two saves in as many minutes, the second of which at the 54th minute mark was with his feet to deny Faizat. At the other end, Sotirovic dazzled his way into the box between two defenders before finding himself on the ground. No penalty was awarded as the referee waved played on. In the 66th minute, Sotirovic wasted a golden opportunity when he managed to dribble past Ilham, only for the Serbian striker to inexplicably hesitate for too long, ultimately losing the ball to a sliding one footed challenge from Azrul.
Harimau Muda took the lead in the 78th minute when Syafwan Syahlan broke clear from a long ball. He had done the same thing in the 57th minute only for Ridhuan to intercept and clear the ball away. This time around though, Syafwan managed to evade the Cheetahs goalkeeper, slotting the ball under Ridhuan into an empty net. There were still time for Hougang United to pile on the pressure as they search for an equalizer. Ilham came to the rescue of his side when he parried away a Gama free kick shot at the 89th minute.
For the first time in six encounters between the two sides, there were no red card to be seen. There were a number of injuries though. Aside from Akhir, Irfan Zakaria had to be substituted early just before half time with Naim Zakaria coming on in his place. Hougang United also suffered a blow when Fareez had to be stretchered off in the 71st minute with Haidil Sufian as his replacement. This was the first time this season that a member of Hougang United’s Prime League team had appeared for the S.League side on the bench and on the field.
Hougang United’s next and penultimate game of the season will be against Geylang International at Bedok Stadium on Monday, the 9th of November.
Hougang United: Ridhuan Barudin, Yuki Uchiyama, Kunhiro Yamashita, Delwinder Singh, Faiz Salleh (Kenneth Chang 90′), Ruzaini Zainal (Faizal Amir 84′), Nurhilmi Jasni, Atsushi Shimono, Fareez Farhan (Haidil Sufian 71′), Diego Gama, Vuk Sotirovic
Harimau Muda: lham Amirullah, Kenny Pallraj, Azrul Nizam Muhammad, Amirul Ikmal, Annas Rahmat (Shahrul Igwan 78′), Akhir Bahari (Ridzuan Abdunloh 37′), Amirul Hisyam, Irfan Zakaria (Naim Zakaria 45′), Kumaahran Sathasivam, Syafwan Syahlan, Faizat Ghazali
With a new head coach in charge, Hougang United will be looking to put an end to their ongoing winless streak when they face Harimau Muda in their final home match of the season. Coincidentally, the last time K. Balagumaran took charge of an S.League team, his first opponents were also Harimau Muda. Gombak United lost that game 0:2 back in February 2012 but they did went on to defeat Harimau Muda in their other two meetings that year with a 3:0 and a 1:2 scorelines.
This year, under former head coach Salim Moin, Hougang United had secured a win and a draw against the Malaysian youth development team. And yet, coming off an impressive 1:0 win over Home United, the Young Tigers can be forgiven if they feel confident of getting a result against a Cheetahs side that has not won in seven matches. On the flip side, the last time Hougang United won a competitive match were against Harimau Muda themselves back in mid-August.
That game saw the red card brandished three times by the referee, thus ensuring a rather unlikely streak live on between the two sides. In their past five encounters stretching back to April 2014, at least one player had been dismissed from the game with the tally currently standing at four Cheetahs and three Young Tigers. Oddly enough, Harimau Muda actually had a good disciplinary record this season with just one red card before that meeting with Hougang United in August. Two of their players were dismissed within four minutes of each other in that game and since then, they have received four further red cards for a total of seven, the most of any team this season thus far. Hougang United’s only red card this year was in that same August game against the Malaysian side.
While attention is naturally riveted towards the top of the table where Brunei DPMM, Balestier Khalsa, Albirex Niigata (S), and Tampines Rovers are all still in contention for the S.League title, there’s another battle at the other end of the table between Hougang United and Geylang International to avoid the wooden spoon. The Eagles had taken the advantage after an upset 2:1 victory over Brunei DPMM on Tuesday evening gave them a three points cushion from the bottom. A win against the Young Tigers is vital for the Cheetahs to maintain pace with their rivals. With a dedicated and loyal group of fans to reward in their last home game of the season and a new head coach on the bench to impress, there’s no shortage of motivating factors for Hougang United’s players to give it their all.
Hougang United F.C. vs Harimau Muda
2015 Great Eastern Yeo’s S.League
6th November 2015, Friday
7:30 pm, Hougang Stadium
Hougang United Football Club is delighted to announce the appointment of K. Balagumaran as the head coach for our S.League team. He will be joined by Rosli Bin Bidin as his assistant coach. They will take charge of their first game when Hougang United hosts Harimau Muda at Hougang Stadium on Friday evening, the 6th of November.
Balagumaran was the head coach of former S.League club Gombak United in the 2012 season. The 51 years old has also previously worked as an assistant coach at LionsXII, Negeri Sembilan and the Singapore Under 23 national team.
On behalf of everyone at Hougang United, we welcome Balagumaran and Rosli to the club and wish them all the best.
Salim Moin and Nor Azli Mohd have been relieved of their duties as the head coach and assistant coach respectively of Hougang United Football Club’s S.League team.
The club would like to express our sincere appreciation for their services this season and we wish them both all the best in their future endeavors.
The inaugural Hougang United F.C. Scholarship award ceremony was held on Saturday, the 31st of October, at The Japanese Association Singapore. Our club chairman, Mr. Bill Ng, was on hand to give out the awards to the 16 deserving recipients. The club was honored to have the presence of FAS President Zainudin Nordin and S.League CEO Lim Chin in attendance.
Congratulations once again to all the scholarship recipients. More photos can be viewed at our facebook page here.
Hougang United might not have ended their ongoing winless streak but they did brought an end to their three games losing streak as they took points off Balestier Khalsa for the first time this season. An opening goal from Yuki Uchiyama was nullified by a late equalizer from Fadhil Noh as the two sides fought out a 1:1 draw at Hougang Stadium on Sunday evening.
For Balestier Khalsa, this draw following a loss to Home United have seen them dropping five points in their last two games, a heavy blow for their title challenge. They remain in second place, five points behind Brunei DPMM who have a game in hand over their rivals.
For Hougang United, this was their first point earned in four games. They have now conceded a goal in each of their last seven games, their second winless streak of the year. On a more positive side, the result meant that Tampines Rovers remain the only club with a perfect record against the Cheetahs this season.
The Line Ups
Kunihiro Yamashita was restored to the starting line up after a one game absence. Fazli Jaffar also made a return to the first eleven for the first time in three games while Muhaymin Salim was handed his first start since the team was knocked out of the Singapore Cup competition back in late May. Carlos Delgado was on the bench while Diego Gama was dropped from the line-up altogether
At first glance of the announced line-up, one could be forgiven for presuming that Yamashita would be partnering Delwinder Singh at centreback with Ruzaini Zainal in midfield and Muhaymin upfront with Vuk Sotirovic. That was not the case, however. In a surprising move, head coach Salim Moin elected to continue the same backline from their previous game while pushing Yamashita to play as a forward alongside Sotirovic.
Balestier Khalsa were missing Poh Yi Feng through suspension but they were able to welcome back former Cheetahs Igor Cerina to their line-up after he had served out a suspension of his own. Ridwan Jamil and Ignatius Ang were also in their starting line up after the former had missed their previous game while the latter only featured as a substitute.
Both sides started the game with a quick pace as they searched for an early goal. Sotirovic slid in a low cross in the 4th minute for Yamashita but Zaiful Nizam was ready to intercept the ball. Just three minutes later, Zulkiffli Hassim latched onto the end of a through ball and raced towards the penalty box but his long range effort went sailing over the crossbar. Another long distance shot, this time from Tarik Cmajcanin, went straight to Ridhuan Barudin in the 11th minute.
The game slowed down thereafter as both sides exercised more restraint. With the two teams playing a similar long ball game, the ball bounced from one end to another in rapid succession but chances were few thanks to quick clearances from defenders and goalkeepers. At the 26th minute mark, Ridhuan had to broke out of his penalty box to clear away a dangerous ball before Ignatius could get to it.
As in the preceding 45 minutes, the Cheetahs had the first close chance following the interval. Captain Nurhilmi Jasni made an impressive dribble to get past Hazzuwan Halim before unleashing a curler from just inside the box that went narrowly wide in the 53rd minute. A quarter of an hour later, a clearance from Sotirovic saw Yusiskandar Yusop attempting an ambitious shot from the centre circle that forced Ridhuan to collect the ball right on the goalline.
The breakthrough came in the 73rd minute from a corner taken by Fazli Jaffar. At the far post, Uchiyama rose above Ridwan to head the ball into the net. This was the Prime League defender’s second goal for the Cheetahs this year. His first had came all the way back in the team’s second competitive game of the season, a 1:1 draw with Home United in early March. The goal also gave Fazli his first assist since his return to Hougang United in June.
There was a golden opportunity in the 78th minute for the home side to double their lead when they broke off in a 4 on 2 counter. From the middle, Sotirovic played the ball wide to Nurhilmi, who crossed in for Fazli at the other end only for the latter’s shot to be parried away by Zaiful.
Just when it appeared the Cheetahs were about to pull off a win, Balestier Khalsa found a late equalier at the 89th minute. A corner saw Emir Lotinac heading the ball wayward only for Fadhil Noh to beat Faiz Salleh to the ball. With a turn and a dribble, Fadhil then drove the ball into the net for his fourth goal of the season. Four minutes of injury time were added but the scoreline remained unchanged.
Hougang United will next play Harimau Muda at Hougang Stadium on the 6th of November, Friday.
Hougang United: Ridhuan Barudin, Faiz Salleh, Delwinder Singh, Atsushi Shimono, Ruzaini Zainal (Tengku Mushadad 69′), Fazli Jaffar, Nurhilmi Jasni, Atsushi Shimono, Muhaymin Salim (Carlos Delgado 72′), Kunihiro Yamashita, Vuk Sotirovic
Balestier Khalsa: Zaiful Nizam, Yusiskandar Yusop, Hanafi Salleh, Emir Lotinac, Igor Cerina, Ridwan Jamil (Danial Tan 76′), Zulkiffli Hassim (Hazzuwan Halim 46′), Ignatius Ang (Fadhil Noh 69′), Tarik Cmajcanin, Miroslav Kristic, Robert Pericic
On a six game winless streak and with four games remaining, there’s a distinct possibility that Hougang United might end the season in the same way that they started it – with an unwanted ten games winless run. The Cheetahs will have an opportunity to eliminate that potential when they play their next match on Sunday evening but it will be a difficult challenge as their opponents is none other than Balestier Khalsa.
The two sides have already met three times this season and in each of those three games, the victors have been the same – Balestier Khalsa. The aggregate scoreline for those three games? 7:4. The only other team that have enjoyed a perfect record against Hougang United this year was Tampines Rovers. The Tigers though could better the Stags’ trifecta with an imposing quadrella.
With 45 goals in 30 games in local competition, Balestier Khalsa boasts a scoring rate only less than title rivals Brunei DPMM. Six points separate the two teams with three games to play but one of those will be a meeting with each other in their final match of the season. With Brunei DPMM dropping points to Tampines Rovers in their previous game, the Tigers would have rued blowing their chance at closing the gap when they lost 2:0 to Home United. Before that game, Balestier Khalsa was on a good run with four clean sheets in a row. They had lost only once in their last 14 league games. Now it’s twice in their last 15.
Their top scorer, Miroslav Kristic, has 14 goals in the league and is still in the running for the Golden Boot. He sits third in the table, four goals behind both Fazrul Nawaz and Rafael Ramazotti. With Tampines Rovers and Brunei DPMM their other two remaining opponents, Kristic could be forgiven for viewing the game against Hougang United as his best chance of catching up with Ramazotti and Fazrul.
Robert Pericic is Balestier Khalsa’s second top scorer with 9 goals in the league. He has been on a good scoring form with three of those goals arriving in their last four games. Neither Kristic nor Pericic played against the Cheetahs the last time around with the former suspended and the latter injured. They still won that game with goals from three different players – Ignatius Ang, Tarik Cmajcanin and Jonathan Xu.
It makes for a contrast to Hougang United’s current goalscoring woes. They have scored only one goal in their last three matches and only two players have scored goals in their last seven matches – Vuk Sotirovic and Nurhilmi Jasni. At the same time, they’ve conceded nine goals in the same seven games. And those are the seven games they’ve played since their last encounter with Balestier Khalsa.
Hougang United F.C. vs Balestier Khalsa F.C.
2015 Great Eastern Yeo’s S.League
1st November 2015, Sunday
7:30 pm, Hougang Stadium