RHB Singapore Cup 2017: Aw Optimistic Of Cup Success
RHB Singapore Cup 2017 (Quarter-Final, First Leg)
Hougang United vs Nagaworld FC (CAM)
(11 August, Friday, 7.30pm, Hougang Stadium)
Written by: Rashid Sulaiman
Without a victory in their last five competitive matches, Hougang United head coach Philippe Aw is keen for his side to return to winning ways when they face Cambodian outfit Nagaworld FC in their RHB Singapore Cup 2017 quarter-final first leg clash at Hougang Stadium on Friday night.
The Cheetahs started their Singapore Cup campaign with a hard-fought 1-0 win over another invited side Ceres Negros FC in the Preliminary Round in June but come into this encounter on the back of a narrow 1-0 loss to Warriors FC in the Great Eastern-Hyundai S.League.
Although Nagaworld are unbeaten in their last five competitive matches, Aw is confident that his charges are able to recover from their league defeat and qualify for the last four.
“We got two big games coming up in the Cup and that it was we want to gun for as we have a better chance for silverware. I hope to do well in the next two games and progress to the semi-finals,” said Aw.
Despite playing well in their previous two matches, Aw feels that they paid dearly for their lapses in concentration and hope his players will learn from that episode.
“The last two games against Balestier and Warriors we made mistake that have cost us. The last game was a red card and against Warriors, we conceded an early goal. We need to get back and focus for the next two matches,” he added.
With all his attacking minded players are fit and available for selection, the 39-year old admits he has a selection headache as he bids to find a way to breach Nagaworld’s defence.
“We have all our (attacking) players back in such as Pablo (Rodriguez), Fareez Farhan and Iqbal Hussain. It’s about finding the right balance, having the composure to finish,” explained Aw.
“We got six attacking players and we can only play three. We tried to figure out what is best for us. Let’s keep Nagaworld guessing how we will line up.”
The Cheetahs started with the trio of Fumiya Kogure, Azhar Sairudin and Fairoz Hasan in their previous match, but called upon Rodriguez, Fareez and Iqbal in the second-half to add more firepower upfront.
But Aw is keeping his cards close to his chest for now.
“Competition for places is intense in this team now,” he said. “Every player is trying to fight for places and its gives us the technical team who to select for the starting lineup.
“It’s not good to be too predictable. It makes the games more interesting trying different things and change tactics around in matches.”
Nagaworld on the other hand are brimming with confidence, having scored a staggering 23 goals in their last five competitive matches, with 14 of those goals coming in their win over Svay Rieng in the Hun Sen Cup.
Suong Virak had an unforgettable day as he scored seven goals with fan-favourite Khim Borey netting a brace.
Their recent match was not all smooth-sailing however as they faced a fierce battle with fellow Singapore Cup participant, Boeung Ket FC. That match ended in a 1-1 draw with Atuheire Kipson saving a point for Nagaworld from the spotkick deep in injury time.
If coach Meas Channa and co are to stand a chance of progressing into the next round, they may have to tighten things at the back as their backline can be shaky, as evident during their 4-3 win over Balestier in the Preliminary Round.
Hougang United - DDDDL
04/08/17 Hougang United 0-1 Warriors FC
29/07/17 Balestier Khalsa 0-0 Hougang United
13/07/17 Hougang United 2-2 Warriors FC (The New Paper League Cup)
10/07/17 Home United 1-1 Hougang United (The New Paper League Cup)
07/07/17 Hougang United 0-0 Albirex Niigata (S) (The New Paper League Cup)
Nagaworld FC - DWWWD
29/07/17 Boeung Ket FC 1-1 Nagaworld FC
24/06/17 Nagaworld FC 14-0 Svay Rieng FC (Hun Sen Cup)
17/06/17 Nagaworld FC 3-1 Kirivong Sok Sen Chey FC
01/06/17 Balestier Khalsa 3-4 Nagaworld FC (RHB Singapore Cup)
24/05/17 Nagaworld FC 2-2 National Police Commissary FC