News • February 20, 2016

Cheetahs Hard Work Pays Off Against Protectors


Written by: Alex Weaver

Hougang United delivered a considerable early blow to Home United’s 2016 Great Eastern Yeo’s S.League campaign after handing them a 1-0 defeat at Hougang Stadium on Thursday evening.

The Cheetahs hardly put on an attacking masterclass for what turned out to be another excellent attendance as 2,307 people watch them secure their first victory of the season.

However, their performance should have put out a warning to the rest of the league’s teams that K.Balagumaran’s men will definitely be no pushovers this season if they perform like they did against Home on a regular basis.

M. Anumanthan and Raihan Rahman sent out an early indicator of what was in store for Home United’s midfield as they started extremely brightly by pressing and not allowing Song Uiyoung , Azhar Sairudin or Zulfahmi Arifin any space or time on the ball.

Such pressing helped Raihan to regain possession in the middle of the field just three minutes into the game and send Kaplan into space behind the Protectors back line. However, Sirina Camara was there to clear the danger.

In the 10th minute, Home hit back when Faris Ramli worked an opening on the left before pulling the ball back to an on-rushing Irfan Fandi, whose connection with the ball was too low and it went flying harmlessly over the bar.

Camara then made his first meaningful run down the left in the 11th minute, but unlike against Warriors FC last Sunday, this turned out to be a rarity during this match.

Home’s frontline were interchanging positions extremely well with each other but the chances were still few and far between.

Irfan and Ken Ilsø found it difficult to retain possession when under pressure from Yusiskandar Yusop and Delwinder Singh, who were always close by when either striker received the ball.

In the 33rd minute, following an excellent sliding challenge at one end by Cheetahs left-back Ali Hudzaifi to deny Irfan a chance when the latter was through on goal, Hougang duly regained some possession and advanced into Home’s territory.

A foul on the edge of the penalty area meant that Croatian forward Stipe Plazibat had the chance to trouble Hyrulnizam Juma’at in the Home goal with the resulting free-kick.

Plazibat duly obliged as he stepped up and struck a delightful shot around the defensive wall to fire the home side in front in the 34th minute.

Home coach Philippe Aw then changed things around at the break as he replaced Azhar Sairudin with Aqhari Abdullah in an attempt to apply more pressure on the Cheetahs rearguard.

Besides a very good chance in the 53rd minute in which Song fired his shot into the ground and over the bar when played in by Aqhari, Hougang continued to frustrate the Protectors in the second-half.

Both coaches made further substitutions as the game drew to a close, but it was Hougang which saw out the closing stages without too much difficulty and condemn Aw’s men to their first defeat of the season.

Hougang United coach K. Balagumaran: “The players spirit was high before we went into the game and they played according to the gameplan. I think they played very well.

“Ali (Hudzaifi) did very well to stop Faris Ramli. I know the gameplan of Philippe was for Faris to hold the ball and win free-kicks so they can attack from the set-plays.”

Home United coach Philippe Aw: “You could see that there were plenty of fouls. Our flow of play was always broken by fouls so that could be Hougang’s tactic to stop us. Our opponent had one chance, the free-kick, and finished it.”

“Against Warriors it was like this, so I’m expecting that this season, teams will come and try and stop our play by kicking us.”

Hougang United: Khairulhin Khalid (GK), Yusiskandar Yusof, Ali Hudzaifi, Delwinder Singh, M. Anumanthan, Jozef Kaplan (C) (Fairoz Hasan 86’), Stipe Plazibat, Nazrul Nazari, Nur Ridho Jafri (Nur Na’iim Ishak 56’), Raihan Rahman, Faiz Salleh (Afiq Noor 75’),

Home United: Hyrulnizam Juma’at (GK), Song Uiyoung, Juma’at Jantan, Abdil Qaiyyim, Azhar Sairudin (Aqhari Abdullah 45’), Ken Ilsø, Faris Ramli (Ikhsan Fandi 70’), Sirina Camara, Shahrin Sabern, Irfan Fandi (Khairul Nizam 67’), Zulfahmi Arifin