News • February 17, 2016

Depleted Cheetahs Wary Of Backlash From Frustrated Protectors


Written by: Alex Weaver

Hougang United vs Home United

(Thursday, 18th February, 7.30pm, Hougang Stadium)

Hougang United will kick-off their 2016 Great Eastern Yeo’s S.League campaign on Thursday evening against a Home United side still reeling from conceding a late equaliser against Warriors FC last Sunday.

The Protectors had the better share of possession against Warriors, but failed to finish off the Rhinos and Hougang will no doubt be wary of any potential backlash.

The Cheetahs will be keen for their many new signings to make a strong start to the season in front of their own supporters, who will be looking to the likes of Jozef Kaplan and Stipe Plazibat to give Philippe Aw’s team another difficult night.

Cheetahs team manager Matthew Tay also revealed that Samuel Benjamin and Afiq Noor could miss the game after to failing the required 2.4km fitness test recently.

With the absence of key players in their squad, Tay outlined that a cautious approach to the game may comprise most of the side’s preparation in the build-up to their season opener.

“We are wary of Home United’s qualities as they are a good team,” he said.

“We watched their game against Warriors and we will probably be quite cautious as a result of their good display,” he said.

However, 2015 S.League player of the year Fumiya Kogure will sit the game out after injuring himself during training and will no doubt be a huge miss for the Cheetahs.

“They look good up top,” Aw said, when asked about his knowledge of the new-look Cheetahs.

“After the Warriors game we were all disappointed because we all entered the game thinking we could win but now the boys will be raring to go again against Hougang.”

As for the Protectors, Faris Ramli looks set to be missing from the lineup for the second match in a row after missing the 2-2 draw against Warriors.

His ankle injury keeps him out of a side that will likely remain unchanged following a mainly good performance against Jorg Steinebrunner’s men.

Key Men To Watch

Hougang United: Jozef Kaplan

The Slovakian striker has loads of experience in the S.League and has been consistent in the goalscoring charts for the teams he has played for so far. He will no doubt be looking to make a good start on Thursday.

Known for his direct running and powerful finishing in and around the box he will probably link up with his Croatian teammate Plazibat and hope that they can fire Hougang to a more respectable league position in 2016.

Home United: Azhar Sairudin

Returning to his former club, Azhar will look to follow up an impressive display against Warriors FC last Sunday.

Capable of dominating any midfield encounter when he is on form, Azhar will no doubt offer the creative element to his side’s attacks while teammate Zulfahmi and Song offer security by playing deeper.

The only thing preventing Azhar from being one of the outstanding players in this league is consistency, so if he can eliminate the one or two careless passes he has a tendency to make, then Hougang will have to do well to prevent him from supplying the much-needed service to hitman Ken Ilsø.

Hougang United – LDLDL

20/11/15 Albirex Niigata (S) 1-0 Hougang United (S.League)

09/11/15 Geylang International 2-2 Hougang United (S.League)

06/11/15 Hougang United 1-2 Harimau Muda (S.League)

01/11/15 Hougang United 1-1 Balestier Khalsa (S.League)

26/10/15 Warriors FC 2-0 Hougang United (S.League)

Home United – LWWLD

14/02/16 Home United 2-2 Warriors FC (S.League)

27/11/15 Albirex Niigata 2-1 Home United (RHB Cup)

24/11/15 Home United 2-0 Brunei DPMM (RHB Cup)

15/11/15 Home United 2-1 Young Lions (S.League)

08/11/15 Home United 2-3 Tampines Rovers (S.League)

Head to Head (S.League)

17/09/15  Hougang United 0-1 Home United

14/05/15  Home United 4-0 Hougang United

06/03/15  Hougang United 1-1 Home United

17/07/14  Home United 1-2 Hougang United

13/06/14  Hougang United 3-1 Home United