Happy New Year!
I would like to start off by congratulating the football team, both players and technical staff in achieving good results in 2019. The team performed well collectively taking third place in the Singapore Premier League (SPL). It was a tough battle in the 24 games with teams playing each other 3 times in a season.
We were close to our title challengers and felt that towards the end of the season, we could have pulled off a surprise. The team ended the campaign with 13 wins, 4 draws and 7 losses in 24 league matches. We also scored the most goals (58) in the league, with 17 different goal scorers. But failed to keep a tighter defence at the back, leaking a shocking number (45) of goals! It is an area we have looked at and need to rectify for the new season.
I feel the team could have done a lot better, by being continuously consistent. With stronger determination, desire and the will to succeed, we could have achieved much more. However, as the saying goes: “In life, we win some, and we lose some”.
The consistent level shown by our fans cannot be faulted. We have played our home matches at Jalan Besar Stadium last season (2019), where our fans have had to make that extra journey to watch the team play. Similarly, they have travelled to different parts of Singapore whenever the players are in action. Kudos to each and every supporter!
This was made even sweeter when our team trailed at some of the matches, but the fans kept pushing and chanting for the players. Your support for the club is truly tremendous and much appreciated! A BIG Thank You to everyone!
I also want to take this opportunity to show my heartfelt gratitude to the Club’s committee members. They have been assisting the Club in their own capacity, while ensuring its daily operation runs smoothly. Much appreciation to the 14 members.
With the results shown on the field and other permutations going our way last season, the Club is participating in the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) Cup this year. It will be a tough competition with the elite teams from all Asian countries. We want the team to do well in the tournament, as well as gain valuable experience through competing with the stronger regional teams. I believe the younger players in our squad have more to learn and this would be a great platform to expose themselves to bigger challenges.
The Club has been working towards Football Association of Singapore (FAS)’s direction of youth development. There are currently 4 players in our team that are in the Under-21 age group- Jordan Vestering, Nikesh Singh, Farhan Zulkifli and Alif Iskandar. These players have featured regularly in 2019 and I strongly believe they will play a bigger role in the upcoming season.
We see good prospect in these players and I trust our technical team are preparing them for the challenges ahead. Jordan Vestering was called up for the South-East Asia (SEA) Games in November 2019. Although he did not feature in this tournament, the experience of joining the squad would undoubtedly be useful for his foundation.
Farhan Zulkifli also represented Singapore in the AFF Under-19 Youth Championship last August and scored his debut goal for the club. These experiences were simply immeasurable. It would be a tremendous confidence booster for these players. We believe these young men are in the good hands of our coaching team.
The introduction of Under-21 League this season is also a welcome move to generate further interest in the younger players. It is an opportunity to widen the pool talent and to discover better players. The appointment of Fandi Ahmad as the Head of Elite Youth is also an encouraging sign from the FAS. With proper structure and system in the local football pathway, the direction is always to nurture the next generation for the future.
Moving towards the new season, our technical team are hard at work in various training regime and fitness programs for the players. As much as we want the entire squad to stick together, the good performances of the players would most certainly attract offers from clubs in the neighbouring countries.
National team player and our Club captain, Zulfahmi Arifin has joined Thai Premier League team, Suphanburi FC while the Club’s top scorer in 2019, Faris Ramli have travelled to Malaysia to play for Terengganu FC. While they are competing at a higher level, these players would be equipped with the necessary experience to guide their team-mates when they group for National team duty.
This is a strong takeaway from management’s point of view as the club provides the necessary platform and resource for the players to perform their best, it also acts as a springboard for further advancement in their short playing span.
At the same time, the club has great confidence that our technical team is able to improve the current group of players and uncover the younger group of talent. This is a tough and long journey in the local football scene and we sincerely hope the better years are ahead.
Finally, I wish to highlight the changes made to our backroom staff, technical team and first team squad. With the new additions, we want to strive further and achieve our targets together this year.
On behalf of each and every Cheetahs at the club, here’s wishing you and your loved ones a joyous 2020 filled with good health, prosperity and happiness.
Hougang United Football Club