Singapore Premier League • June 19, 2014
Hougang Out to Halt Tampines
Tampines Rovers vs Hougang United
(June 19, Thursday, 7.30pm, Clementi Stadium)
Written by: Phoon Jia Hui
Just three points separate Tampines Rovers and Hougang United as the two face off at Clementi Stadium on Thursday evening.
Hougang sit fifth, a solitary point clear of Albirex Niigata (S) while Tampines are two spots above on 31 points, one point adrift of leaders Brunei DPMM.
After a remarkable run of games where they beat Albirex, Warriors FC and most recently Home United, the Cheetahs currently find themselves in unfamiliar territory. After all, their best ever finish in the Great Eastern Yeo’s S.League came in 2011 when they finished seventh.
This can be attributed to the fact that coach Amin Nasir has been able to bring the best out of his players and this has translated into performances.
Midfielders Azhar Sairudin and Shunsuke Nakatake have flourished under his leadership, striking a telepathic understanding in the engine room while the same can be said for forwards Diego Gama and Geison Moura who have scored 19 goals between them.
Having been dumped out of the RHB Singapore Cup, Hougang will have added reason to win here to boost their chances of a top-six finish – a goal which Amin declared was their target right before the start of the season.
Meanwhile, Tampines will be eager to notch three points to stay within touching distance of DPMM.
The defending champions have only lost once in their last five games in all competitions, going down 1-0 to Geylang International two weeks ago
They have taken advantage of the transfer window to snap up the services of Justin Pasfield, Jake Butler and former Geylang International skipper Jozef Kaplan as they seek to turn their fortunes around.
Goalkeeper Pasfield and Kaplan have proved to be decent acquisitions while Butler is slowly finding his feet in the league though signs do look promising for him.
Butler will once again be tasked to shackle the Hougang midfield pairing of Azhar and Nakatake and cut off the supply to Gama and Moura who on their day can be deadly.
That said, it will not be an easy game for either team as they will be looking for all three points to stake their respective claims.
The Cheetahs earned all three points in a shock 4-2 win when they met earlier this season as braces from Moura and Gama rendered Aleksandar Duric and Shahdan Sulaiman’s goals a consolation.
Key Men To Watch
Tampines Rovers: Jozef Kaplan
Give him space and he will punish you. This was the warning DPMM failed to heed as the Slovakian forward almost ran riot.
Not afraid to take on his man, Kaplan executed seven dribbles against Steve Kean’s side and of which, four were successful according to InStat. Also, he had a 75% accuracy in his passes and Hougang will do well to stop him.
He opened his account against Harimau Muda in their last game and he will be keen to add to that tally.
Hougang United: Shunsuke Nakatake
Nakatake has been one of the unsung heroes for Hougang this term, quietly doing his work in the heart of midfield.
While he has scored only once, he has contributed to the team with his passing and tenacity. Against Warriors in their 3-2 win, he had an InStat score of 105 and was ranked third just behind Home’s Indra Sahdan and Butler with a passing completion rate of 75%.
He also capped off the good performance with an assist and won 71% of his challenges in midfield.
Tampines Rovers – WWLWW
13/6/14 Harimau Muda 0-1 Tampines Rovers
10/6/14 Tampines Rovers 2-1 Brunei DPMM
6/6/14 Geylang International 1-0 Tampines Rovers
29/5/14 Harimau Muda (5) 1-1 (6p) (AET) Tampines Rovers
23/5/14 Courts Young Lions 1-2 Tampines Rovers
Hougang United – WWWLD
13/6/14 Hougang United 3-1 Home United
8/6/14 Hougang United 3-2 Warriors FC
5/6/14 Albirex Niigata (S) 0-1 Hougang United
26/5/14 Tanjong Pagar United 1-0 Hougang United (RHB Singapore Cup)
21/5/14 Hougang United 1-1 Tanjong Pagar United
Head to Head (S.League)
5/4/14 Hougang United 4-2 Tampines Rovers
18/7/13 Hougang United 2-3 Tampines Rovers
12/5/13 Tampines Rovers 3-0 Hougang United
24/8/12 Hougang United 1-1 Tampines Rovers
25/3/12 Tampines Rovers 1-1 Hougang United
10/8/11 Tampines Rovers 3-1 Hougang United
19/5/11 Hougang United 2-0 Tampines Rovers
22/2/11 Tampines Rovers 5-2 Hougang United