Tigers Prowling For A Win In Their Season Finale
Hougang United vs Balestier Khalsa
(2 November, Thursday, 7.30pm, Hougang Stadium)
Written by: Rashid Sulaiman
Balestier Khalsa captain Zaiful Nizam is keen for his side to end the season on a high when they face Hougang United at Hougang Stadium in their final Great Eastern-Hyundai S.League match on Friday night.
The Toa Payoh-based club are currently in seventh place on 16 points, three points shy of their previous season final tally.
A win in their season finale is crucial as eighth-placed Brunei DPMM who are on 14 points, have two games in hands over the Tigers.
“We will do our best and get the results as it is our last game of the season for us and we want to win it,” said Zaiful.
“I try to encourage the other players and we have been together for almost a year. We need to finish on a high note. We not only play as a team but as a family, and push one another towards the end be it play at home or away,” added the Singapore international.
While Balestier are at the bottom half of the table, Zaiful feels that they have not performed badly on the pitch.
“Last year’s squad is different from this season and it is a much younger team this year,” he noted.
“Even if we lose, it’s by a small margin. The team tried their best and many of them are young and have gained valuable experience. We should keep this squad together and I am sure they can gel as a team and be better.
“In defence and with regards to team play, everyone play with their hearts out but the only thing is that we do not have a natural striker in the team.”
In their two meetings this season, it has been a closely fought affair. Nurhilmi Jasni scored the winner for the Cheetahs in their first match while it ended goalless in the second encounter.
Seeing how his team had fared against Hougang in those matches, Zaiful believes that they are able to match their opponents and claim all three points at the Hougang Stadium.
“In the end it is all about playing good football. Even away from home we did decently in terms of our performance,” Zaiful enthused. “We had our fair share of attacks but it’s only that we can’t put the ball at the back of the net. But it is a team effort and everyone is responsible for defending and attack.”
For Hougang, they came into this match on the back of a 1-0 win over Garena Young Lions, snapping a three-match losing streak against Global Cebu FC (1-2), Home United (0-2) and Albirex Niigata (S) (0-1).
Head coach Aw started with several younger players in their match against the Young Lions and one of them, Justin Hui repaid his coach’s faith in him as he scored the winning goal.
“When the game against Young Lions was scheduled, we planned to expose these younger boys because it would be a good chance for us to give them some match experience.
"Hence, we decided to hand Justin and Syukri (Bashir) a start and I’m happy the former justified my selection by scoring the goal which won us the game,” explained Aw after their win over the developmental squad.
Pablo Rodriguez will miss out due to injury while midfield hardman Fabian Kwok will be suspended after accumulating his fourth yellow card of the season.
Suspension: Fabian Kwok (Hougang United)
Hougang United - DLLLW
24/10/17 Garena Young Lions 0-1 Hougang United
19/10/17 Albirex Niigata (S) 1-0 Hougang United
15/10/17 Hougang United 0-2 Home United
30/09/17 Hougang United 1-2 Global Cebu FC (RHB Singapore Cup)
27/09/17 Global Cebu FC 2-2 Hougang United (RHB Singapore Cup)
Balestier Khalsa - LWWLL
26/10/17 Balestier Khalsa 0-3 Albirex Niigata (S)
20/10/17 Home United 2-0 Balestier Khalsa
16/10/17 Brunei DPMM 1-4 Balestier Khalsa
20/09/17 Garena Young Lions 0-1 Balestier Khalsa
17/09/17 Balestier Khalsa 0-1 Tampines Rovers
Head to Head (S.League)
29/07/17 Balestier Khalsa 0-0 Hougang United
27/04/17 Hougang United 1-0 Balestier Khalsa
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