Hougang United scored a major upset as they kicked off their 2015 The New Paper League Cup campaign by defeating the reigning 2014 champions Brunei DPMM. A solitary goal in the first half by newcomer Vuk Sotirovic settled the affair in favor of the home side at Hougang Stadium.
The goal came against the run of play in the 21st minute. Brunei DPMM had appeared to be controlling the game when the Serbian striker latched onto a loose ball outside the penalty box and delivered a powerful shot into the bottom corner. Brunei’s goalkeeper Wardun Yussof could barely react at the abruptly delivered goal.
Vuk joined Carlos Delgado, Diego Gama, Delwinder Singh and Atsushi Shimono as a newly signed quintet playing for Hougang United for the first time this season. Carlos and Diego had previously played for Hougang United in 2011 and 2014 respectively. Another former player, Fazli Jaffar, entered the field in the 55th minute when he was substituted in for Fareez Farhan.
Despite dominating the match, Brunei DPMM were unable to break Hougang’s defence. This was the first time all season that Brunei DPMM had failed to score in a match. Rafael Ramazotti remains the S.League current top scorer with 11 goals in 9 matches but he was largely frustrated in this game by a resolute Hougang United back line.
Delwinder Singh was impressive on his debut playing on the left while Yuki Uchiyama looked more comfortable on the right than in the middle. Kenneth Chang and Tengku Mushadad had played in prior matches for Hougang this season but this was their first time playing together as a centreback partnership and they were quietly effective in dealing with Brunei DPMM’s crosses.
A deep cross from Azwan Ali did broke through Hougang United’s defence mere seconds after Vuk’s goal but Ramazotti was unable to control the ball and sent his shot wide. Azwan delivered another quality cross from a free kick that would have bounced high into the goal mouth if not for the outstretched hand of a well positioned Ridhuan Barudin. It was arguably the most impressive save the goalkeeper had to make in the game though a 68th minute dive to deny a Ramazotti header was eye catching as well.
Those watching the match might have been surprised to know that it was only Hougang United’s second competitive win this season. It was also Hougang United’s first win over Brunei DPMM in six games across two years. There was no question that Hougang United deserved all three points though, as Brunei DPMM’s head coach Steve Kean recognized with his remarks at the post-match press conference.
“Hougang with their new players is not the Hougang that played the first round of the S.League. It’s virtually a new team and they deserved to win because they were better than us in every aspect.”
Both teams will continue their League Cup campaign on Saturday with Hougang United facing Geylang International at Hougang Stadium while Brunei DPMM meeting Singapore Recreation Club at Jalan Besar Stadium.
Hougang United: Ridhuan Barudin, Delwinder Singh, Kenneth Chang, Tengku Mushahdad, Yuki Uchiyama, Fareez Farhan (Fazli Jaffar 55’), Atsushi Shimono, Carlos Delgado, Fairoz Hasan (Nurhilmi Jasni 70’), Diego Gama, Vuk Sotirovic
Brunei DPMM: Wardun Yusoff, Sairol Sahari, Brian McLean, Boris Raspudic, Rosmin Kamis, Azwan Ali (Azwan Saleh 61’), Hendra Azam (Maududi Hilmi 81’), Joseph Gamble, Adi Said (Aminuddin Zakwan 61’), Paulo Sergio, Rafael Ramazotti