News • February 20, 2017
New Season New Ambition for Hougang United
With a slew of exciting signings this season, Philippe Aw has set sights on winning at least a piece of silverware with the club from the north-east this season.
They have never finished in the top-half in the history of the S.League or won any major silverware in local football, but that could change this season.
Newly-appointed head coach Philippe Aw has targeted success with Hougang United by opting to bring in a dynamic style of play for the fans and has vowed in his rebuilding efforts.
“We want to give the bigger clubs a run for their money,” Aw declared.
“We want to play a good brand of football, and pack Hougang Stadium so it’s important that we play good football so that fans will turn up to watch us. We also wish to win at least a piece of silverware.”
They managed a sixth-place finish last season, their best-ever league finish but missed out on a spot in the AFC Cup after losing their final three matches as Home United took that spot at their expense.
Looking to build on that success and recognising a need for continuity, Hougang have kept faith with the core of players from the class of 2016.
Those extending their stay at the Hougang Stadium include local players such as Iqbal Hussain and Nazrul Nazari, as well as 2015 S.League Player of the Year Fumiya Kogure who is in his second year at the club.
In addition, they have swooped for Atsushi Shirota and Fabian Kwok from Albirex Niigata (S) and Tampines Rovers to help shore up their backline.
Aw has also gone for familiarity by raiding Home United for Azhar Sairudin, Zulfahmi Arifin, Lionel Tan, Syahiran Miswan and Amir Zalani, while welcoming back old boy Fareez Farhan from the Garena Young Lions to add some firepower upfront.
While The Cheetahs may have lost last season’s top scorer Stipe Plazibat to the Protectors, they have in his place forward Pablo Rodriguez who will fill the shoes of the Croatian.
The 31-year-old has played in the youth ranks of Spanish clubs Levante and Valencia, before appearing in eleven other domestic leagues in Europe and Asia and his latest stint saw him turn out for Indonesian side Madura United where he scored 14 goals.
Relishing the chance to work with his new teammates this season, Rodriguez is raring to go and has set for himself a lofty target to reach.
“Hougang currently have a really good team with good players so hopefully this will be a better season for the club,” he said.
“As a striker, my personal target would be to try to score as many goals as possible or even try to become the top scorer.”
With Rodriguez expected to lead the Hougang frontline this season, Aw believes the Spaniard can deliver whenever called upon.
“Rodriguez brings to us a different perspective,” the ex-Home coach noted.
“He’s a tall player and at 1.90m, he will provide us with some aerial threat so expect him to bang in some goals this season.”
Another player who will don the Cheetahs jersey in 2017 is midfield lynchpin M. Anumanthan, and the reigning Young Player of the Year is keen to start afresh for the upcoming season.
“Every season is a brand new one,” the combative midfielder said.
“I will just put aside disappointments from last season and do what I have to do to win in every game we play.
“Every day and every training is a competition because everyone is willing to work hard. We have an atmosphere of confidence in the team and the competition is healthy.”
With a squad like that at his disposal, coach Aw will certainly be encouraged in his side’s challenge for honours this season.
Hougang will open their new campaign against Geylang International on 27 February at the Hougang Stadium. The match will kick-off at 7.30pm.
S.League 2017 fixtures: http://sleague.com/fixtures-results/fixtures/s-league