The last game of the Singapore Premier League season see third place Hougang United making the trip to Hassanal Bolkiah Stadium to play the newly crowned SPL Champion, Brunei DPMM. The Cheetahs has an opportunity to overtake second place, Tampines Rovers dependent on the night’s results.
With the home team almost nothing to play for after wrapping up the title 2 games ago, Brunei DPMM started the hungrier team. The champions closed down every loose ball and quicker to all second balls. The move paid dividends when their quick pressing game allows Najib Tarif free on the left to cross in the ball for Andrei Varankou to head in the first goal of the match in the 7th minute.
An early injury to Hougang United’s midfielder, Anu forced a change, Shahfiq Ghani was brought on in the 17th minute.
The home side continued to press with purpose, making the away side in conceding possession. The second goal came in the 37th minute when Andrei Varankou nodded in his 21st goal of the season. Brunei DPMM goes into the break 2-0 up.
The Cheetahs came out of the second half with better ball possession, with higher intensity of play. Shahfiq Ghani pulled one back in the 55th minute after a gorgeous long range effort. The away side continued to press forward in search of the equaliser, but conceded spaces in the back-line.
A swift counter-attack sets Varankou free on the right, before he cuts the ball back for Adi Said to tap in, restoring the 2 goals advantage.
Goals started flying in when Shahfiq Ghani replied almost immediately in the 63rd minute. Afiq Noor breaks free after DPMM’s centre-back, Charlie Clough lost possession in the opposition half. The Hougang United midfielder draws in the entire DPMM defense, before releasing the ball to Nazrul Nazari on the right. The right back then squared the ball to Shahfiq Ghani whom was left unmarked on the edge of the box. A fantastic first touch sets him nicely to narrow the deficit to 3-2.
Eight minutes later, Nazrul Nazari was fouled in the box by Wardun Yussof after a brilliant long pass by captain Zulfahmi Arifin. The goalkeeper misjudged the high ball and brought down the pacy right-back. Shahfiq Ghani then made no mistake from the spot, leveling the score to 3-3. It was a excellent display from the Cheetahs in the second half, thus far.
Shahfiq Ghani completed his hat-trick in 18 minutes, bringing his goal tally to 8 goals in 10 games.
The momentum stays with the away side, and the Cheetahs always look dangerous and likely team to score the 4th goal. However, a goalkeeping error allows Adi Said to put DPMM in front again and Awangku Fakharrazi’s deflected goal in the 85th minutes dashed Hougang United hope of finishing second in the SPL table. Fazrul Nawas came on with minutes remaining, pulling back a consolation goal with the last kick of the match.
It was a spirited performance by the boys in the second half, but it was not enough to win the match. The Cheetahs finished third in the 2019 Singapore Premier League, the best ever position in the club’s history.
Date: 28 September 2019, Sunday
Stadium: Hassanal Bolkiah Stadium
Half-time: Brunei DPMM 2-0 Hougang United
Full-time: Brunei DPMM 5-4 Hougang United
Brunei DPMM: Andrei Varankou 7′, 37′ Adi Said 60′, 82′ Awangku Fakharrazi 86′
Hougang United: Shahfiq Ghani 55′, 63′, 73′ (P) Fazrul Nawas 90′