Hougang Look To Extend Winning Run
Geylang International vs Hougang United
(Saturday, 20 May, 7.30pm, Jalan Besar Stadium)
Written by: Phoon Jia Hui
Hougang United will be gunning for a third successive win in the 2017 Great Eastern-Hyundai S.League when they face Geylang International at the Jalan Besar Stadium on Saturday night.
The Cheetahs recovered from a three-match losing run to record back-to-back victories over Balestier Khalsa (1-0) and Warriors FC (2-0) to move into fifth spot in the standings.
Those results have given the team a huge boost, according to Hougang head coach Philippe Aw.
“This win is good for confidence, as we got another clean sheet,” he said after the win over Warriors.
“Geylang are not going to be easy as well but at least we go into this week preparing for the game in high spirits.
“To come back from three defeats to get two straight wins, that’s good for our confidence which is a big factor in team sport. ”
One man who has been instrumental to Hougang’s resurgence is defender Lionel Tan.
Having started five out of the eight games they have played thus far, he is well aware of the threat the Eagles can pose.
“We all know (about) Geylang's tenacity and never say die attitude,” the 20-year-old noted. “I'm certain they will come out and be eager to get back to winning ways.
“But the team has been working hard and we will go out to fight for the win.”
Having kept two clean sheets in a row, Tan is hopeful a third can follow and has highlighted the need for Hougang to keep things tight at the back.
“It is definitely possible if we continue working together, and cut out on silly mistakes,” he said.
“The clean sheets are very important, it helps us build the team morale especially during the match itself as we know we can win games if we don't concede.
“But what's more important is that we get the three points at the end of the day.”
This being his first full season playing in the S.League, the former Home United trainee is relishing the experience.
“It has been really amazing,” he enthused.
“I'm enjoying the pressure I get while playing in the S.League. It brings me out of my comfort zone, teaches me how to be stronger in every aspect and I'm thankful to Hougang for showing faith in me.
He believes lining up alongside Japanese Atsushi Shirota and Singapore international Zulfahmi Arifin in the heart of defence this season has helped him improve as a player.
“Atsu and Zul have helped me a lot by using their vast experience to guide me in games and keep me focused,” he shared.
“Even during trainings, they are there to demand the quality and focus from me and I feel I have benefitted a lot from it.
“But I must not forget the rest of my teammates who have motivated me and helped me settle down quickly.”
While Hougang will be without the injured Nurhilmi Jasni and the suspended Nazrul Nazari, Tan is still confident of a result against a team they beat 2-0 in their opening game of the season.
“In every team, things like that are bound to happen, whether if it is suspension or injuries,” he said.
“But with quality players who are always ready to give their all, I believe we can continue our winning ways as long as we battle and fight together.”
Geylang on the other hand, will be looking to bounce back after defeats to Home (0-3) and Albirex Niigata (S) (0-1).
With injuries starting to take a toll on his side, Eagles head coach Hasrin Jailani lined up with a back five in their last game against Albirex and it worked a treat as they limited the White Swans to just one goal.
Midfielder Stanely Ng will return after missing the last game due to suspension, while defender Anders Aplin will sit this one out as he serves the second of his two-match ban.
Suspensions: Anders Aplin (Geylang International); Nazrul Nazari (Hougang United)
Geylang International - LWWLL
11/05/17 Geylang International 0-1 Albirex Niigata (S)
28/04/17 Home United 3-0 Geylang International
20/04/17 Geylang International 2-0 Brunei DPMM
15/04/17 Garena Young Lions 0-2 Geylang International
08/04/17 Geylang International 0-4 Tampines Rovers
Hougang United - LLLWW
11/05/17 Warriors FC 0-2 Hougang United
27/04/17 Hougang United 1-0 Balestier Khalsa
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
Head to Head (S.League)
27/02/17 Hougang United 2-0 Geylang International
20/10/16 Hougang United 0-1 Geylang International
18/06/16 Geylang International 1-2 Hougang United
07/04/16 Hougang United 3-1 Geylang International
09/11/15 Geylang International 2-2 Hougang United