Written by: Phoon Jia Hui
Pablo Rodriguez netted a brace as Hougang United recorded a comfortable 4-0 victory over Nagaworld FC in their RHB Singapore Cup 2017 Quarter-Final second leg tie at Jalan Besar Stadium on Monday night.
Fareez Farhan and Syahiran Miswan were the other names on the scoresheet as the Cheetahs progressed with an aggregate 8-1 win to book a spot in the last four where they will face Global Cebu FC of the Philippines.
Coming into this with a three-goal cushion at hand, Hougang head coach Philippe Aw made five changes to his starting line-up.
Defender Atsushi Shirota was handed the armband while youngster Justin Hui made his first start, slotting on the left-hand side of a three-man midfield alongside Afiq Noor and Syahiran.
The opening exchanges was tentative with chances few and far between.
Nagaworld created the first chance of note in the fourth minute as Sos Suhana fired a speculative effort which Khairulhin Khalid gathered easily.
Both teams cancelled each other out thereafter but Rodriguez would come close for the Cheetahs as he saw his header come off the post on 28 minutes.
Nagaworld had their moments too with Atuheire Kipson firing one that trickled just wide in the 34th minute before Khim Borey curled a freekick narrowly over two minutes later.
The woodwork then came to the rescue of the designated hosts as Fareez Farhan set up Nazrul Nazari for a header that beat Samreth Seiha but not the upright.
There was however no denying Hougang who the lead on the stroke of half-time as Rodriguez fired home acrobatically after Fareez’s fierce shot had crashed off the underside of the bar.
The second-half continued in the same vein and Hui could have made it 2-0 to Hougang but blasted wide off Nazrul’s cutback on the edge of the six-yard box.
Two goals in the space of three minutes would end all hopes of a Nagaworld comeback.
First, an unmarked Fareez fired home from inside the six-yard box in the 66th minute after Nazrul and Rodriguez had combined well down right the right.
Rodriguez then turned scorer three minutes later as he beat his man easily down the left before calmly slotting past Seiha and into the bottom far corner.
The rout was complete on 78 minutes as Syahiran finished powerfully from inside the box to wrap up the scoring for Hougang.
Nagaworld FC Head Coach Meas Channa: “I was encouraged by the spirit of the boys in the opening 30 minutes; they controlled the game and we kept the shape of our midfield. But everything went downhill after the first two goals and for that I’m disappointed. The gap between each department was too big and we made it easy for Hougang to play football.
“I’m proud I could lead the team into the quarter-finals of the competition and we will try harder the next time if the chance is given to us. Hopefully we can make it further when the time comes.”
Hougang United Head Coach Philippe Aw: “I made five changes to the team and it took us a while to settle down but once we did, everything just fell in place. But we were unlucky prior to the opener as we hit the post twice.
“It’s pleasing to score eight goals over two legs, even Syahiran got a goal today which can only bode well for the team but we can’t think we are the top of the world after this victory.
“We now have a S.League game against Geylang on Friday which is not going to be easy but we have to recover well for that.”
Nagaworld FC: Samreth Seiha (GK), Leng Makara, Ngoy Srin, Kento Fujihara (Mao Bunchantha 70’), Nhim Sovannara, Khim Borey (Soung Virak 57’), Kouch Sokumpheak (C) (Prak Chanratana 23’), Sos Suhana, Kouch Dani, Atuheire Kipson, George Kelechi
Hougang United: Khairulhin Khalid (GK), Nazrul Nazari (Fairoz Hasan 65’), Delwinder Singh, Atsushi Shirota (C), Zulfahmi Arifin, Faiz Salleh, Afiq Noor (Azhar Sairudin 75’), Syahiran Miswan, Justin Hui (Wahyudi Wahid 80’), Fareez Farhan, Pablo Rodriguez