Written by: Ryan Low
Hougang United picked up their second home win in as many Great Eastern-Hyundai S.League matches after a neat 2-0 victory over a gritty Garena Young Lions side at the Hougang Stadium on Saturday night.
Fareez Farhan broke the deadlock against his former employers on the stroke of half time, before Japanese playmaker Fumiya Kogure sealed the victory in the second-half with a gorgeous free kick.
The first 45 minutes was devoid of clear-cut chances, with the Young Lions doing well to restrict the home side from taking hopeful shots from long range.
Fareez had a good try from the edge of the box on ten minutes, but his snapshot was turned around the post by Young Lions custodian Hairul Syirhan.
It looked like the first-half was about to end goalless before Fareez’s timely intervention.
The 23-year-old – who started upfront in place of the injured Pablo Rodriguez – took down captain Azhar Sairudin’s left-wing cross, spun past his marker before firing inside Hairul’s near post.
The Young Lions came out of the second-half looking to restore parity and did well to fashion two opportunities, but Muhaimin Suhaimi and Taufik Suparno were unable to beat Hougang goalkeeper Khairulhin Khalid on both occasions.
At the other end, Hougang continued on to push forward for the second goal and eventually got it on the 63rd minute.
After being felled on the edge of the box by Ammirul Emmran, 2015 S.League Player of the Year Kogure dusted himself off to curl home a beautiful dead ball past a helpless Hairul for his third goal in as many matches.
Young Lions coach V. Selvaraj reacted by bringing on a couple of fresh legs for his side, but there was no way past the stout Hougang defence led by Japanese defender Atsushi Shirota.
The local developmental side eventually fell to their third defeat in as many matches, while Hougang rose to third in the table with six points from three – just behind Home United on goal difference.
Hougang United Head Coach Philippe Aw: “We knew it’s going to be tough although the Young Lions lost 6-1 and 5-0 in their last two matches. The objective for them is to come here and be organized, make things difficult for us, so the goal definitely came at the right time for us.
“Before that, we had chances but were not composed enough to convert. Overall, we still have areas to improve on; the free-flowing football was evident in some parts of the game and it takes time to get accustomed to this playing style. But I’m happy that we gave opportunities to players like Antoine Viterale and Ali Hudzaifi.”
Garena Young Lions Head Coach V. Selvaraj: “Everything was going according to plan until the first goal; for 44 minutes, we were playing and defending together. My goalkeeper did not have much to do in the first half, we were pressing and doing well towards the last 20 minutes of the first half.
“That goal came because we were attacking and failed to get numbers back in defence. It’s a mark of an experienced team taking advantage of our inexperience. Overall, we made fewer mistakes than the last two games. We just need to work on that killer touch or killer pass, the players have to miss more to realise how to work on their positioning and technical ability.”
Hougang United: Khairulhin Khalid (GK), Ali Hudzaifi, Atsushi Shirota, M. Anumanthan, Fareez Farhan, Azhar Sairudin (C) (Amir Zalani 74’), Fumiya Kogure, Nazrul Nazari, Syahiran Miswan (Fairoz Hasan 81’), Zulfahmi Arifin, Antoine Viterale (Nurhilmi Jasni 59’)
Garena Young Lions: Hairul Syirhan (GK), Amirul Adli, Shahrin Saberin (C), Ammirul Emmran (Muhelmy Suhaimi 70’), Ryan Syaffiq (Zulqarnaen Suzliman 61’), Taufik Suparno, Syahrul Sazali, Hami Syahin, Dhukhilan Jeevamani (Shafeeq Faruk 78’), Muhaimin Suhaimi, Rusyaidi Salime