Singapore Premier League • February 21, 2014
Cheetahs Aiming to Kick-off Season with Victory
Hougang United vs Woodlands Wellington
(February 22, Saturday, 7.30 pm, Hougang Stadium)
Written by: Muhammad Yazid
Woodlands Wellington open their Great Eastern Yeo’s S.League campaign with a trip to the Hougang Stadium to face Hougang United as they aim to better their top-half finish last year.
The man who helped achieve that feat, Salim Moin, has since left for champions Tampines Rovers and replacing Salim in the dugout is Australian Darren Stewart.
In Stewart, Woodlands possess a brilliant tactician who led Balestier to a top four finish in the league as well as silverware last season. Stewart has not wasted time stamping his style on the team, and has worked hard to gather the players he required.
The squad assembled is one with a blend of youth and experience this season with the capture of defender Bah Mamadou and has also retained goalkeeper Yazid Yasin. Taufiq Ghani has joined from Geylang International while Andy Ahmad has been promoted into the senior side.
Hougang coach Amin was wary of Woodlands and insisted that the Rams are now an unknown quality with Stewart at their helm, although he was still looking to win the game
“Stewart is a very good coach, he showed it at Balestier and Gombak so it might be difficult,” Amin said.
“We are playing at home we want to start with a win. We want to do well for the first game as that brings motivation and morale, spirit.”
The Hougang core has largely remained the same, and they were decent last season. However, the Cheetahs’ achilles heel were their consistency, with them winning one match 4-0 and losing the next 1-0.
Although they have parted ways with Mamadou Diallo, the Cheetahs have pulled off a transfer coup by signing 27-year-old forward Erwan Gunawan from Warriors FC to try and fill the gap left behind by the Guinean. Also mediating the loss of Diallo was the signing of Geison Moura, who has impressed in pre-season.
Amin has also at his disposal Azhar Sairudin and the returning Diego Gama to provide extra creativity in midfield and firepower upfront. In addition, defender Igor Cerina has been retained and along with skipper Lau Meng Meng, they will look to keep things tight at the back.
With Moon Soon Ho and S.League 2013 top scorer Chang Jo Yoon leading the frontline for the Rams, Amin will need his backline to be at their best and not have a lapse in concentration as was prone to them in the last campaign to prevent the duo from running riot.
“We have to be careful, we must be very alert all the time. These are the things we analysed from last year, you need to concentrate throughout the entire game. This was what happened last year and we spoke to the boys and now they are prepared,” he said.
Hougang United – LWWLD
5/11/13 Courts Young Lions 2-0 Hougang United
29/10/13 Hougang United 4-1 Geylang International
24/10/13 Hougang United 4-1 Harimau Muda B
19/10/13 Brunei DPMM 1-0 Hougang United
25/9/13 Warriors FC 1-1 Hougang United
Woodlands Wellington – LLLDL
4/11/13 Woodlands Wellington 3-6 Tampines Rovers
30/10/13 Balestier Khalsa 3-0 Woodlands Wellington
23/10/13 Albirex Niigata (S) 3-1 Woodlands Wellington
18/10/13 Woodlands Wellington 2-2 Tanjong Pagar
25/9/13 Woodlands Wellington 2-3 Home United
Head to Head (S.League)
26/6/13 Hougang United 0-1 Woodlands Wellington
15/3/13 Woodlands Wellington 0-0 Hougang United
1/9/12 Hougang United 2-2 Woodlands Wellington
30/3/12 Woodlands Wellington 1-3 Hougang United
15/7/11 Hougang United 2-3 Woodlands Wellington
5/5/11 Woodlands Wellington 1-4 Hougang United