Singapore Premier League • April 24, 2014
Cheetahs Visit Young Tigers Den
Harimau Muda vs Hougang United
(April 24, Thursday, 8.45pm, Pasir Gudang Stadium)
Written by: Kenneth Ho
Hapless Harimau Muda will play at home for the second consecutive week as they take on the visiting Hougang United.
The Young Tigers are still without a point to their name in the league, and they arguably lost their best chance of getting one last week when they went up against second-from-bottom Courts Young Lions. Instead, they lost 3-2, thanks to an 87th minute goal by Jordan Webb.
However, Harimau should not lose heart for they may gain a point against Hougang United, should they apply themselves well against the visitors.
The game plan for the hosts should be to be as defensive as possible, given their patchy form up front.
Despite playing attractive and offensive-oriented football (99 attacks made against the Young lions, ranked number five in the whole league), Harimau just are unable to score when it matters.
Out of eight games so far, the Malaysian development side have only been able to score in three of those games, with a paltry return of five goals so far.
But this will be easier said than done, as Harimau are not very capable defensively either. They have failed to keep a clean sheet since the start of season, while shipping in 25 goals so far.
For Hougang, this game represents the best chance for them to rebound back from their recent back-to-back losses to Geylang International and Brunei DPMM respectively.
The Cheetahs are missing Azhar Sairudin again as the midfielder serves the final of his two-game suspension, and his absence was telling especially in the last game against DPMM.
Without him pulling the strings in midfield as per usual, Hougang struggled to complete passes and were last in the league last week for passes completion rate, with only 67% of their passes finding its mark.
That said, the Cheetahs should have no problem defeating the hosts with their strikeforce duo of Geison Moura and Diego Gama. The two were lively against Brunei DPMM despite not being able to score, and they are among the top few strikers in the league’s scoring chart.
Suspension: Azrul Nizam Bin Muhammad (Harimau Muda), Azhar Sairudin (Hougang)
Key Men to Watch
Harimau Muda: Azam Bin Abdul Azih
There is a struggle to name a key player to look out for, due to the squad underperforming and the general lack of consistency in a starting lineup. Even in the goalkeeping department, Harimau has used three different goalkeepers in their last three games.
Given a need to disrupt Hougang’s play and retain possession for themselves, Azam might be the key to this game. He has been effective in break up plays, with a success rate of 62% of challenges being won.
Hougang United: Shunsuke Nakatake
Without Azar, Nakatake has assumed the role of being the midfield general and he has been doing it with aplomb.
Competent in spraying passes (74% accuracy) to the forwards, the Japanese can also be counted upon defensively. with a 78% success rate of winning a challenge.
Harimau Muda – LLLLL
20/4/14 Harimau Muda 2-3 Courts Young Lions
11/4/14 Brunei DPMM 5-0 Harimau Muda
3/4/14 Harimau Muda 0-3 Geylang International
27/3/14 Tampines Rovers 3-2 Harimau Muda
23/3/14 Harimau Muda 0-2 Home United
Hougang United – LLWDL
16/4/14 Hougang United 0-1 Brunei DPMM
11/4/14 Geylang International 3-2 Hougang United
5/4/14 Hougang United 4-2 Tampines Rovers
27/3/14 Home United 2-2 Hougang United
20/3/14 Warriors FC 2-0 Hougang United
Head to Head (S.League)
24/10/13 Hougang United 4-1 Harimau Muda
30/8/13 Harimau Muda 1-2 Hougang United
26/4/13 Hougang United 3-1 Harimau Muda
29/10/12 Hougang United 0-0 Harimau Muda
27/4/12 Harimau Muda 3-1 Hougang United