Singapore Premier League • April 2, 2018
Singapore Premier League Preview: Young Lions vs Hougang United FC
Ikhsan Fandi is set to spearhead the Young Lions attack.
SINGAPORE, 2 APRIL 2018 – The Young Lions and Hougang United FC will be eager to get their Great Eastern-Hyundai Singapore Premier League season off to a winning start when they lock horns at Jalan Besar Stadium on Wednesday (4 April) evening, with kick-off scheduled for 7.45pm. There will be a curtain-raiser clash in the form of the West Zone B Division Boys’ football final between Chua Chu Kang Secondary and Boon Lay Secondary at 4pm too!
BACKGROUND Led by local footballing legend Fandi Ahmad, the Young Lions are seeking improved fortunes this season after finishing ninth for the past two years.
This will be Fandi’s second stint as Coach of the developmental side, having guided them to third-placed finishes twice from 2003 to 2006.
They will welcome the return of Irfan Fandi from Home United FC to add steel to their backline and he is joined by younger brother Ikhsan, while the likes of Zharfan Rohaizad, Rusyaidi Salime and Hami Syahin have also been retained.
The home side could have the slight edge in terms of match fitness as a majority of their players were involved in the National Under-23s’ recent 3-0 loss to Indonesia in an International Friendly.
Their opponents are a Philippe Aw-led Hougang who came in sixth out of nine teams in the league and reached the RHB Singapore Cup semi-finals last season.
The Cheetahs have a squad with a mix of youth and experience and the Young Lions will face familiar foes in former players Illyas Lee, Muhaimin Suhaimi and Jordan Chan.
TEAM NEWS Hougang will be without Chan (shoulder injury) while Young Lions’ new signing Asshukrie Wahid will miss out due to an ankle problem. Midfielder Hami Syahin is suspended for the hosts.
Young Lions: LLLLL
24/10/2017 Young Lions 0-1 Hougang – Singapore Premier League
15/09/2017 Hougang 2-1 Young Lions – Singapore Premier League
11/03/2017 Hougang 2-0 Young Lions – Singapore Premier League
23/09/2016 Young Lions 0-2 Hougang – Singapore Premier League
19/05/2016 Hougang 1-1 Young Lions – Singapore Premier League
KEEP AN EYE OUT FOR
Ikhsan Fandi – Young Lions
Along with his elder brother Irfan, the duo are expected to provide the Young Lions with a touch of class as the team aims to do better than their previous campaigns. Ikhsan has been around the national team and a full season in the Singapore Premier League will give him an opportunity to show the local fans what he is all about.
Ikhsan possesses fine technique and his willingness to lead the line will provide the midfielders with more options to play that killer pass.
The Young Lions will also have the added advantage to push Irfan into attack if they are behind and partner his younger brother in search of goals.
Shahfiq Ghani – Hougang
Signed from Geylang International after a fruitful 2017 season, Shahfiq will be looking to put his injury troubles behind him.
Possessing a sweet left foot, the attacker is a threat from set-pieces, which could make him a secret weapon for the Cheetahs.
Last called up to the National Team in their ill-fated 2014 Asean Football Federation (AFF) Suzuki Cup campaign, Shahfiq will be eyeing a possible recall to V Sundram Moorthy’s side for the biennial competition come end of the year.
WHAT ELSE THEY SAID
Young Lions midfielder Zulqarnaen Suzliman: “It is going to be a tough match as we know Hougang have a number of quality players like Justin Hui and the three who joined them from Young Lions, but we will try our best to go for the win.
“We are definitely more attacking-minded under Coach Fandi this year and that was evident in pre-season where we managed a number of decent results against stronger teams, both locally and in Malaysia.”
Hougang Captain Nurhilmi Jasni: “It’s a new season and every team will start off with a clean slate. The players are all ready and we look forward to the opening match.
“We have been working hard in pre-season and if we can work together as a team, I don’t see why we cannot get something out from this match.”
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