Hougang United’s participation in the 2015 RHB Singapore Cup competition came to an end only three hours after it had started as they were knocked out by Global FC on Wednesday. It was a long night at Hougang Stadium for players and audience alike as the Lightning Warning Activation delayed the resumption of the second half by an hour while the game itself went to extra time.
The lengthy delay proved to be significant. Hougang United had dominated the first half and deservedly took the lead when Francisco Ela scored in the 39th minute of the game. His shot came from a free kick at 22 yards out. The Equatorial Guinea had scored only twice in his first ten games for the club but he now has two goals from his last two games.
That was as good as it got for the hosts. It was Global FC who came charging out in the second half. Two corners in the first two minutes after resumption signalled their intent. The second saw Jason De Jong connecting with a header but his effort went wide.
The equalizer came from another corner in the 51st minute. Amani Aguinaldo, who had came on as a substitute after the interval, headed the ball downwards towards the far post but it was headed away by Lau Meng Meng on the touchline. The ball floated upwards and as gravity forced it down, Norio Suzuki headed the ball at point blank range. Ridhuan Barudin had attempted to collect the ball from Amani’s header and was out of position to prevent Suzuki’s shot at goal.
The winner came from a similar scenario in the 103rd minute of the game. Another corner produced a goalmouth scramble as the ball ping ponged from one Global FC player to another before finding an unmarked Jason De Jong, who slotted home in convincing fashion. The video highlights from the game indicated that the ball might have been nudged towards Jason by a teammate’s arm but there was no denying that Hougang United’s inability to clear the ball was what ultimately cost them the game.
Despite conceding two goals, Ridhuan had an otherwise decent game for Hougang United. In the 6th minute of the game, Suzuki had been played through onside and raced ahead of Tengku Mushadad. His shot at point blank range was pushed out by Ridhuan for a corner. In the 23rd minute, from a dead ball situation outside the box, Matthew Hartmann took a shot that was perfectly position to land in the top right corner if it wasn’t for the goalkeeper. Then a minute before the winning goal, Matthew was clear through on the left but his shot was blocked by Ridhuan.
There were close opportunities for the Cheetahs as well. Two minutes after Francisco’s opening goal, Fairoz Hasan played a one-two with Muhaymin Salim and saw his shot slammed into the goalpost. In the 85th minute, Fairoz broke clear and was one-on-one with Global FC’s goalkeeper, Roland Sadia, who had gone to ground too early. The home crowd bellowed for Fairoz to round past the keeper and shoot but instead the player opted to pass the ball to Francisco instead. With defenders closing in on him, Francisco’s shot was too high.
Hougang United did suffer a big loss early in the game. Defensive midfielder Shunsuke Nakatake has been a constant presence for Hougang United. Since he joined the club in 2014, he had started 41 out 42 games, the sole exception being a suspension due to an accumulation of four yellow cards. He had never been substituted before by the Cheetahs but that abruptly changed when he suffered an injury to his right in the 4th minute. The club waited for five minutes, opting to play with a one man disadvantage, before they confirmed that Nakatake had to be substituted.
Nakatake’s replacement, Taufig Ghani, was making his debut appearance for Hougang United. He made a vital interception in the 48th minute after Suzuki had broken clear on the left.
Hougang United suffered another setback in the 72nd minute of the game when their captain Nurhlimi Jasni had to be stretchered off the field. He was replaced by Manato Takahashi, who came close to scoring at the 120th minute when his shot was tipped over the crossbar by Roland.
Global FC will face Geylang International in the next round of the RHB Cup.
Hougang United: Ridhuan Barudin, Faizal Amir, Tengku Mushadad, Renshi Yamaguchi, Lau Meng Meng, Nurhilmi Jasni (Manato Takahashi 72′), Fairoz Hasan, Shunsuke Nakatake (Taufiq Ghani 9′), Fareez Farhan, Muhaymin Salim (Yuki Uchiyama 87′), Francisco Ela.
Global FC: Roland Sadia, Jerry Barbaso, Jahanbahksh Taher (Amani Aguinaldo 46′), Masaki Yanagawa, Daisuke Sato, Yu Hoshide (Ray Jonsson 87), Jason de Jong, Misagh Bahadoran, Mark Hartmann, Matthew Hartmann, Norio Suzuki (Dennis Villanueva 74′).
Photo Credits: S.League (Alson Ong)