News • July 22, 2016
The New Paper League Cup 2016: Cheetahs Through To Plate Semi-Finals
Written by: Shawn Lim
Hougang United secured their first victory of their The New Paper League Cup 2016 campaign after handing Warriors FC a 4-1 defeat in their final Group A game at Hougang Stadium on Thursday night.
A brace from Jozef Kaplan, as well as goals from Iqbal Hussain and Fumiya Kogure helped the hosts achieved three points and secure third place in the group, which means they will meet the fourth-placed team in Group B in the Plate semi-final.
The Cheetahs came a fraction away from scoring the opening goal inside nine minutes of the game when Emmeric Ong gave the ball away cheaply inside his own half to Kaplan, who went through on goal, but fired straight at Warriors custodian Basil Chan.
Kaplan came close again three minutes later when the Slovakian sprung the offside trap to meet Kogure’s defence-splitting pass, but Chan was quick off his line to gather the ball.
Warriors almost broke the deadlock against the run of play on 16 minutes when an incisive passing move that that was started by Ridhuan Muhamad on the right flank saw him sprinting into the box to meet Poh Yi Feng’s return pass, but could only shoot a tame effort at Ridhuan Bahrudin.
Chan was called into action again in the 24th minute, this time leaping up to tip Kogure’s dangerous free-kick that looked destined for the back of the net over the crossbar.
Hougang continued to probe and their efforts were almost rewarded on 33 minutes when Kogure’s fierce drive from outside the box took a deflection off a Warriors player and smacked the foot of the post.
The breakthrough arrived for the hosts on 42 minutes when Iqbal headed home Kogure’s corner-kick, moments after the preceding corner saw Chan showing brilliant reflexes to push the striker’s volley from a similar position into touch.
Warriors’ attempts at finding an immediate response were dealt with a blow when the match was temporarily halted two minutes later because the Lightning Warning System (LWS) had been activated.
When play resumed after the LWS had been switched off, it was the Cheetahs who started brightly as Nur Na’iim Ishak’s effort with the outside of his boot from 20-yards out curled narrowly wide of the mark.
Warriors came out after the half-time break keen to reduce the deficit and almost succeeded on 59 minutes, but Andy Ahmad was unable to reach Hafsyar Farkhan’s low cross into the box at the far post.
Hafiz Rahim tried his luck with an overhead kick in the 73th minute after Ismail Yunos had picked him out with an accurate cross, but the former’s effort flew over the bar.
The Cheetahs doubled their lead two minutes later when Kogure poked home Khairulnizam Jumahat’s cross at the far post after Warriors were left exposed at the back by a counter-attack from the hosts after pushing up too much in their bid to find an equaliser.
The visitors were handed a lifeline on 78 minutes when Hafiz Rahim ran on to Shaiful Esah’s cross and glanced a header into the bottom corner of the net.
Warriors should have pulled level in the 82nd minute, but after Ridhuan was played through on goal, the midfielder tried to curl a shot around Ridhuan Barudin and his effort went horribly wide.
However, all hopes of a comeback dissipated in stoppage time for Warriors when Kaplan scored twice in quick succession, first dribbling his way through a sea of defenders to finish, before tapping in from close-range after Huzaifah Aziz had squared the ball across to him.
Hougang United coach K.Balagumaran: “We are pleased with the performance tonight because we haven’t won in four games.
“After the loss against Tampines, I gave players like Na’iim another chance and they played well today. They proved that they have a place in the starting line-up if someone is injured or suspended.”
Warriors FC coach Razif Onn: “We were not playing well in the first-half because we were trying to hold up the ball too much and we are not a side that can do that.
“In the second-half, we got a goal and could have gotten another, but we pushed forward too much and got caught on the counter-attack.”
Hougang United: Ridhuan Barudin (GK), Delwinder Singh, Wahyudi Wahid, Khairulnizam Jumahat, Faliq Sudhir, Raihan Rahman, Nur Na’iim Ishak, Nurhilmi Jasni, Fumiya Kogure, Iqbal Hussain, Jozef Kaplan (C)
Warriors FC: Basil Chan (GK), Ismail Yunos, Hafiz Osman, Kento Fukuda (C), Shaiful Esah, Emmeric Ong, Poh Yi Feng, Ridhuan Muhamad, Andy Ahmad, Hafiz Rahim, Hafsyar Farkhan