By Ang Tian Tian
After conceding to Tampines Rovers in their last game, Hougang United bounced back into form, sealing a second home win against the Garena Young Lions on Saturday night (11/3). The Cheetahs double fired their way to victory in a 2-0 win against the Young Lions at Hougang Stadium to put them in third-place in the Great Eastern-Hyundai S League.
A goal by Fareez Farhan during additional time in the first half and a curved free-kick by Fumiya Kogure at the 61th minute saw the Cheetahs pulling clear of the Young Lions.
Both teams appeared to struggle to get a grip of the game in the first few minutes on the wet field, with sloppy passes and messy tackles.
Fareez Farhan had a chance at goal at the 9th minute after connecting with a through ball from Ali Hudzaifi. However he was denied both attempts, which were blocked by Garena defender Rusyaidi Salime, and goalkeeper Hairul Syirhan.
With the first half devoid of goals, Fareez’s efforts finally paid off when he buried a shot into Garena’s bottom corner at the 46th minute. The forward broke the deadlock after connecting with Azhar Sairudin’s left-wing cross in the penalty box and firing a goal.
In the second half, the Young Lions sought to create more opportunities to overturn the deficit, but were denied two one-on-ones by Hougang
goalkeeper Khairulhin Khalid.
In the first attempt, Muhaimin Suhaimi broke free of the Cheetah’s defensive line after taking down a long-haul pass. His ambitious attempt at a goal was deflected by Khairulhin who leapt up and blocked the shot wide in mid-air.
A minute later, the Young Lions attempted to counter-attack after they were awarded a free-kick for a foul committed by Antoine Viterale. After connecting with a pass from Dhukhilan Jeevamani, Taufik Suparno attempted a chipped shot, which was skillfully blocked off by Hougang’s alert custodian.
Hougang’s side continued to push forward to build on their lead. At the 51th minute, M. Anumanthan directed a lobbed cross towards Antoine who was situated a few metres away from the goal unmarked. The young French-Italian forward attempted a header but was inches short.
Four minutes later, Fareez followed up with another attempt at goal but the ball was driven wide of the net.
The Cheetah’s lead was finally doubled after Fumiya Kogure delivered a sublime free-kick after he was fouled on the edge of the box by Ammirul Emmran. The Japanese playmaker fired home the decisive strike in the 61th minute, putting Hougang at 2-0.
An opportunity arose for the Young Lions at the 68th minute when Syahrul
Sazali connected with a long-range pass at the edge of Hougang’s penalty box. However, the mid-fielder was unable to dribble pass Hougang defender Ali Hudzaifi to make any significant advances towards the goal.
Substitutions were made on both ends but the Young Lions were unable to get pass Hougang’s formidable defence trio, Atusushi Shirota, M. Anumanthan and Ali Hudzaifi, whose chemistry was potent. The defenders played well to hinder the Young Lion’s advances, comfortably protecting the Cheetah’s lead.
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.”
Hougang United will be facing off Brunei DPMM on Satuday, 1st April 2017 in Bandar Seri Begawan at 8.15pm.