RHB Singapore Cup 2017: Protectors Edge Cheetahs For Third
Written by: Phoon Jia Hui
Amiruldin Asraf’s first half strike was enough for Home United to beat Hougang United 1-0 at Jalan Besar Stadium on Sunday night and clinch third place in the RHB Singapore Cup 2017.
Despite missing the likes of skipper Hassan Sunny, Izzdin Shafiq and Faris Ramli, it was Home who had the first sighting of goal on two minutes.
Christopher van Huizen however curled one inches wide after cutting in from the right.
At the other end six minutes later, Iqbal Hussain was slipped through by Fabian Kwok but the former failed to put his effort on target.
The deadlock would however be broken on 21 minutes when Amiruldin ghosted in unmarked at the near post to poke home M. Anumanthan’s low cross.
The Protectors would come close to doubling their lead nine minutes before the break but Aqhari Abdullah could only fire straight at Hougang custodian Ridhuan Barudin after he was teed up by Amiruldin.
Hougang nearly pulled level on the stroke of half time but Fumiya Kogure saw his 20-yard shot fly narrowly over the bar.
Kogure would then spurn a glorious opportunity to level matters for the Cheetahs moments after the restart as he fired tamely at Rudy Khairullah when it looked easier to score.
Hougang head coach Philippe Aw reacted by bringing on forward Fareez Farhan for Syahiran Miswan midway through the second half as they sought a way back into the tie.
The next chance of note would however come in the 79th minute. Kogure nodded Nazrul Nazari’s cross into the path of Fareez but his header was too weak to trouble Rudy.
There was one final chance for Home to make sure of the victory but Adam’s effort was deflected behind for a corner, having been put through by Song Uiyoung’s cheeky backheel.
Hougang piled on the pressure in the closing stages but were unable to find the elusive equaliser as they had to contend with a fourth-place finish in this year’s Singapore Cup.
Home United Head Coach Aidil Sharin: “The boys played very well today. We dominated the game and in fact, the scoreline could have been more than 1-0. But I’m pleased with the boys who came in for my regulars who couldn’t play today - they gave their maximum effort for the full 90 minutes.
“My young players like Adam, Amiruldin and Irfan have performed whenever called upon this season. They are also getting better and Amiruldin even managed to score the winning goal today which is good to see.
“Juma’at (Jantan) had a superb game in central defence today. He guided the backline well alongside Haziq Azman and is a good leader of the team.”
Hougang United Head Coach Philippe Aw: “We didn’t start well today. If you compare the first half and second half, the second was much better but we just didn’t have the quality. We probably only managed to entertain in the second half where it was end to end.
“Our final pass was lacking and we had a clear chance which we didn’t finish. Home on the other hand, showed hunger to want to play and we didn’t manage to match them. Defensively, we were not tracking the runners; Amiruldin and Stipe (Plazibat) was causing some problems for us.
“It was a disappointing end to the season. We didn’t achieve what we wanted to although we could go general stuff well. We have struggled to score goals season long and if you don’t score, you don’t win games - it’s as simple as that.”
Home United: Rudy Khairullah (GK), Aqhari Abdullah, Haziq Azman, Juma'at Jantan, Iqram Rifqi (Arshad Shamim 83’), Christopher van Huizen (Sirina Camara 89’), M. Anumanthan, Song Uiyoung, Adam Swandi, Amiruldin Asraf (Syed Firdaus 89’), Stipe Plazibat (C)
Hougang United: Ridhuan Barudin (GK), Nazrul Nazari, Delwinder Singh, Atsushi Shirota, Faiz Salleh, Zulfahmi Arifin, Syahiran Miswan (Fareez Farhan 53’), Fabian Kwok, Nurhilmi Jasni (C) (Antoine Viterale 80’), Fumiya Kogure, Iqbal Hussain (Fairoz Hasan 87’)