Singapore Premier League • September 3, 2014

Low Praying For Harimau Favour


Written By: Kenneth Ho

Hougang United are left hoping for the best, after they failed to claim sixth spot as their own after a 2-1 defeat by Harimau Muda in their last game of the Great Eastern Yeo’s S.League Round Two.

The loss means that seventh-placed Balestier Khalsa can leapfrog the Cheetahs if they win their last game against Harimau. Even though both teams will have the same total points, Balestier have the better goal difference.

While Hougang team manager Nicholas Low admitted that they hope Harimau inflict the same misery on Balestier as they did to Hougang, it was bitter for them to not cement the top-half finish when they only required a point from the last three games to do so.

“Mathematically we hope for a favour from Harimau, but you never hope this,” Low lamented.

“You always want to be on the driving seat. We kind of pulled ourselves out of the driving seat with three games to go, and we will pay for that if we were not good enough and move on from there.”

Reflecting on a game against the cellar-dwellers Harimau, which was supposedly the easiest fixture Hougang had left in Round Two, Low was disappointed by the disjointed performance by the Cheetahs.

“I thought we were let down by individual’s error obviously but when going down we also lost our shape. You can see a lot of almost-there balls but that’s football, when it doesn’t go your way, it doesn’t go your way,” he continued.

“The defensive errors obviously didn’t help. But we obviously didn’t put the ball into the back of the net or create the chances we should have to put the ball in the back of the net either.”

However, Low also stressed that it is a measurement of how much the team has improved this season that a top-six finish was actually attainable.

“It will be the cherry on top if we had secured sixth. It is a disappointment [to not get it now] but if you told me at the beginning of the season that we would only be three points away from sixth now, and are in this position… it shows how far we have come.“

Harimau coach Razip Ismail hailed his young side after the game, saying the result was a testament of how much they have grown since the start of the season.

Harimau had started the season with ten straight losses and were unable to string back-to-back undefeated streaks. However, they are now unbeaten in three games.

“I am not surprised with the victory tonight. The most important thing was the consistency and confidence of the players. After the competition in Brunei, I think the players’ confidence raised up and they showed it tonight,” Razip stated.

While Razip was happy his players created goals by pressurising the opposition’s backline as instructed, he admitted he was quite relief following the sound of the final whistle.

“I think it is very important to get the three points tonight, I am happy with my players, especially in the first-half, when we got the two goals,” Razip said.

“But in the second half, I think we lost our shape, lost our concentration and I think in the second half we were very lucky. Towards the end of the game when we conceded the late goal, I think we were quite lucky.”