Nurhilmi Calls For Focus Ahead Of Balestier Test
Hougang United vs Balestier Khalsa
(Thursday, 27 April, 7.30pm, Hougang Stadium)
Written by: Phoon Jia Hui
Hougang United and Balestier Khalsa will be looking to get their 2017 Great Eastern-Hyundai S.League campaign back on track when they lock horns at the Hougang Stadium on Thursday night.
The two teams head into this match after being handed a defeat by defending champions Albirex Niigata (S) in their previous fixture, with Hougang losing 2-0 while Balestier fell 3-0.
More importantly, both sides will come into this with only two wins to show after six games played and are level on points with Hougang pipping Balestier to that sixth spot on goal difference.
Speaking ahead of the game against the Tigers, Hougang captain Nurhilmi Jasni has expressed confidence that his team can return to winning ways.
“The boys are definitely fired up to bounce back from three defeats. Nobody in the team likes to lose,” he said matter-of-factly.
“I am sure we can get a result if we work hard as a team, take our chances and believe in ourselves. It’s not (going to be) easy but it’s a test of character for the boys.
“We have been working hard in training and I have faith that the hard work will pay off.”
Goals have been hard to come by for the north-eastern side, having only found the net four times - the joint-lowest with Garena Young Lions - and Nurhilmi has urged his teammates to take the chances that come their way.
“We have done well in terms of organisation and team play,” noted the 31-year-old. “However, we were not clinical in front of goals and lapses of concentration was our downfall.
“The boys know what the team is lacking and there is definitely a lot of hard work that needs to be put in. If we can work that out, I believe we can progress well as a team and achieve our target for the season.”
While Balestier have struggled for form this season, Nurhilmi insists Hougang cannot take their opponents lightly.
“We should not underestimate any team in the league,” he said.
“Balestier are a hardworking side who have that tenacity and willingness to work together. They are fast on the counter as well.
“Going into this match, the boys have to match that tenacity and show desire and hunger to want it more than them.”
In the Balestier camp, head coach Marko Kraljevic has also highlighted his team’s lack of goals as a cause of concern but has vowed to give their all against Hougang.
“We have some problems upfront but we are able to create chances, very good ones in fact,” the 51-year-old said.
“That’s football, sometimes you have to make decision in a split second and it goes against us. We have to move on and focus on our next game against Hougang.
“We will try our best.”
Without a recognised forward in the team, it has forced Kraljevic to deploy midfielder Tajeli Salamat upfront and the Croat has been impressed with what he has seen from the youngster so far.
“I think the best option for us for now is Tajeli,” he said.
“I mean if you come into goalscoring positions, this is good - this means your timing and running is very good. He is always somewhere there (in the box) but he must work on his finishing and I will stick with him.”
Hougang United - LWLLL
14/04/17 Albirex Niigata (S) 2-0 Hougang United
09/04/17 Hougang United 0-2 Home United
02/04/17 Brunei DPMM 2-0 Hougang United
11/03/17 Hougang United 2-0 Garena Young Lions
03/03/17 Tampines Rovers 2-1 Hougang United
Balestier Khalsa - LLWWL
21/04/17 Balestier Khalsa 0-3 Albirex Niigata (S)
07/04/17 Balestier Khalsa 2-1 Brunei DPMM
02/04/17 Balestier Khalsa 1-0 Garena Young Lions
11/03/17 Balestier Khalsa 0-1 Tampines Rovers
04/03/17 Geylang International 2-0 Balestier Khalsa
Head to Head (S.League)
01/10/16 Hougang United 1-1 Balestier Khalsa
10/06/16 Balestier Khalsa 2-2 Hougang United
19/03/16 Hougang United 1-0 Balestier Khalsa
01/11/15 Hougang United 1-1 Balestier Khalsa
07/08/15 Balestier Khalsa 3-2 Hougang United