News Singapore Cup • November 19, 2022
Hougang United are 2022 Singapore Cup champions!
SINGAPORE, 19 NOVEMBER 2022 – Hougang United were crowned champions of the 2022 Singapore Cup on Saturday night after defeating Tampines Rovers 3-2 in a thrilling final at the Jalan Besar Stadium.
It was a historic night for the Cheetahs, who won the first ever major trophy in their history on their maiden Singapore Cup final appearance with 2,983 spectators in attendance. Firdaus Kassim’s charges had to do it the hard way even though they took the lead through Kristijan Krajček, who would go on to be the hero of the night.
The Croatian broke the deadlock on 15 minutes but Tampines Rovers turned the match on its head through goals from Taufik Suparno and Irfan Najeeb on either side of the half-time break. But Hougang United preserved and levelled through a stunning curler by Krajček, who then sparked joyous scenes with a composed finish as the match wound down to complete his hat-trick and ultimately seal victory.
Firdaus said: “First and foremost, I am at a loss for words. It has been a very tough season for everybody and we got our fair share of criticism. This club should exist to win trophies, and we have delivered; I have to give a lot of credit to the players. Week after week after tough results, it would have been easy to just give up and look forward to next season, but they kept trying and kept believing, This is the product of patience and hard work, I am very delighted for the club and players – we deserve it.”
Krajček, 29, became the first player to ever score a treble in a Singapore Cup final and said: “You look at the quality we have in the team, I had so much confidence that we could do it (even after losing our first group match). Personally, I had a bad start to the season; I got injured and when I came back… the coach still believed in me and after that the season just changed (for the better). My late younger brother Dario, who passed away 10 years ago – I dedicate this trophy to him.”
For four-time winners Tampines Rovers, it was disappointment in their ninth Singapore Cup final appearance – a joint record with Home United – as they fell short of retaining the trophy. Head coach Gavin Lee said: “We conceded early so that was not ideal but it was really good how we responded; we should have done more of that towards the end.
“One game does not throw away all the good work we have done as a team over the season, this loss will just kickstart our 2023 campaign in a sense and we will definitely use (the defeat as motivation) in a positive way. For a lot of these young boys, this was their first taste of a high-pressure situation, but if you look at the way they played, the future is bright. If we continue to work our socks off, we will get the wins in time to come.”
A day earlier, Albirex Niigata (S) defeated Balestier Khalsa in a five-goal encounter to finish third. The AIA Singapore Premier League champions had to fend off a spirited fightback after going three goals up and eventually prevailed 3-2 at the Jalan Besar Stadium.
For their victory, Hougang United were presented with the coveted Singapore Cup trophy by Football Association of Singapore Vice President, Mr Teo Hock Seng and received prize money of S$50,000. They became the ninth different club to win the tournament. Runners-up Tampines Rovers received S$30,000 while Albirex Niigata (S) and Balestier Khalsa received $$20,000 and $$10,000 respectively.
The 2022 Singapore Cup final marks the end of the domestic football season, which saw Albirex Niigata (S) win the AIA Singapore Premier League earlier in October.
2022 Singapore Cup final day match details
Third-placing match: Albirex Niigata FC (S) 3-2 Balestier Khalsa FC
Scorers: Ilhan Fandi 34′, 39′, Reo Kunimoto 59′ | Daniel Goh 63′, Ryoya Taniguchi 72′
Final: Hougang United FC 3-2 Tampines Rovers FC
Scorers: Kristijan Krajček 18′, 58′, 78′ | Taufik Suparno 38′, Irfan Najeeb 47′