Photo Credits: Shawn Tan
By: Ng Ching Yan
Another enthralling fixture on the cards, another valuable opportunity for Hougang United Football Club to perpetuate their ascension up the table. The Cheetahs has been steadily racking up points ever since coach Amin Nasir took the reins and en route to their status quo, their commendable feat includes notching a meritorious 3-0 victory against a more illustrious Home United side and even though the latter lost by a startling margin, the scoreline wasn’t a condign reflection of the game as the Cheetahs had a glut of chances to finish the game with a cricket score.
In their previous home game, Hougang United also resoundingly prevailed 4-1 against a lackluster Harimau Muda side. Mamadou Diallo was a constant genesis of attacking exuberance with his parlay of skills and the onus upfront would be on him to breach a Geylang International side tomorrow night. Geylang International was not too shabby though, with the Eagles registering a slender victory against Courts Young Lions.
The Cheetahs would have to be circumspect of the ominous presence of Eagles’ scoring amulet Jozef Kaplan as well as former Lions XII midfielder Yasir Hanapi, who showed his potency with an exquisite assist for the Eagles’ winner against Courts Young Lions. The Eagles will also be boosted by the wealth of experience player-coach Noor Ali possess, who was a Cheetah himself in the past. However, despite the much-feted attacking triumvirate of Yasir Hanapi, Jozef Kaplan and Stefan Milojevic, the Cheetahs have enough quality to match or even overshadow them with defenders Igor Cerina and Syaqir Sulaiman proving to be sturdy presences at the back.
Igor Cerina, who had another commanding outing against Harimau Muda B, showed he can flourish at the other end as well as he bagged a brace. The staunch defence of Hougang United Football Club also constitutes of captain Lau Meng Meng and Faizal Amir and both of them will definitely be tasked with a tough mission in putting an end to Geylang International’s 2 match winning streak. Hougang United also boasts an intimidating strikeforce as well, with Jerome Baker and Mamadou Diallo in the ranks. Albeit both of them hogging the frontlines, Hougang coach Amin Nasir also have super sub Basit Hamid—who netted two goals which includes a spectacular scissors kick—and striker Liam Shotton at his dispense as well. In midfield, with Thomas Beattie and Azhar Sairudin patrolling at the middle of the park, the Cheetahs definitely won’t be easily breached albeit facing free-scoring Jozef Kaplan. Cheetahs goalkeeper Fadhil Salim, who was rewarded for his sterling performances this season with national team call-ups, will also have to be at the pinnacle of his game. Tomorrow night will unequivocally be a thriller but it’ll be an equivocal point as to who will prevail.
Having won the Cheetahs thrice already this season—twice in S.League and once in the league cup—the Eagles definitely hold the upper hand in terms of head-to-head record but it’ll be a brand new chapter tomorrow night. The Cheetahs will definitely be keen to avoid facing a comeuppance for their early season jitters by at least finishing above the bottom two places. Will it be Hougang United FC who are riding on rich form or would Geylang International FC curtail Hougang’s chances of avoiding the unpalatable prospect of finishing second last and make it a fourth win in four encounters against the Cheetahs?