Photo Credit: Football Association of Singapore
It is still early days in the SPL but for Hougang and Warriors, there are already issues to be addressed if they want to finish in the upper echelons of the table.
Widely expected to dispatch the Young Lions in their season opener, Hougang fell to a shock 2-0 away defeat against last season’s bottom dwellers instead.
Having lost 2015 Player of the Year Fumiya Kogure and Azhar Sairudin in the off-season, Philippe Aw’s men showed a distinct lack of creativity in the attacking third and failed to get a meaningful shot on target throughout the game.
“It was extremely disappointing, especially after a great pre-season where we played strong teams and confidence was high,” Cheetahs striker Antoine Viterale said. “We need to play as a unit like what we did during pre-season. If we do that, we’ll be winning many games this season.”
In contrast, Warriors do not have problems creating chances – the issue is putting them away. In the opening 1-1 away draw against Geylang International FC, French forward Jonathan Behe scored one but missed a few gilt-edged opportunities that cost them two points.
In the following 1-0 home defeat to Young Lions, Mirko Grabovac’s men rued a combination of bad luck and poor finishing as they rocked the woodwork four times.
With just one point from two matches, the Warriors lie third from bottom, although there is plenty of time to play catch-up.
“It’s been a disappointing start for us as we hoped for six points,” said Warriors midfielder Poh Yi Feng, who was unlucky to see his 30-yard shot smack the bar against Young Lions. “Looking at both games, we only have ourselves to blame because we missed so many chances. We definitely have to improve on our finishing and have more options in attack.”
TEAM NEWS Hougang have a full-strength squad to call upon, with Adam Mitter in line to make his competitive debut for the Cheetahs. The English defender sat on the bench the last time out as his work permit came through just hours before the game against Young Lions.
As for the Warriors, defender Delwinder Singh will miss a reunion with his former employers as he will serve out a one-match suspension. Key forward Behe will also not be available as he continues his recovery from a hamstring injury.
17/11/17: Warriors 1-1 Hougang – Singapore Premier League
04/08/17: Hougang 0-1 Warriors – Singapore Premier League
13/07/17: Hougang 2-2 Warriors – League Cup
11/05/17: Warriors 0-2 Hougang – Singapore Premier League
25/10/16: Warriors 5-1 Hougang – Singapore Premier League
KEEP AN EYE OUT FOR
Adam Mitter – Hougang
With a decent CV that includes playing in India and Philippines, Mitter is an old-school English centre-back who is big and strong in the air. The former Blackpool trainee’s leadership qualities will come in handy as Hougang look to address the defensive frailties that cost them against Young Lions.
Sahil Suhaimi – Warriors
Widely viewed as one of the brightest Singaporean prospects, Sahil’s career seems to have stalled a little in the last couple of years. With good ability on the ball and a powerful shot in his repertoire, the 25-year-old forward will look to impress in the absence of Behe as he looks to regain his spot in the Singapore National Team.
WHAT ELSE THEY SAID
Hougang striker Antoine Viterale: “We went back through the match footage (against Young Lions) and we all know our errors both as a team and individually. We’re ready to bounce back.
“I’m wearing the no. 9 this season and it’s a big responsibility. It’s no longer good enough just to be a flashy player who dribbles, it’s about the end product and helping the team with big performances.”
Warriors midfielder Poh Yi Feng: “2017 was not a good year for me in terms of playing time, so I’m going to work harder this year to make up for lost time and hopefully win something with this club.
“For this game against Hougang, the key is to play simple, not rushing the play and keep believing in ourselves. The team that makes the least mistakes will win.”
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