News Singapore Premier League • September 14, 2018

Singapore Premier League Preview: Chang to clash with Song as Hougang start impossible mission against Home


Chang made his return to Singapore football with Hougang this season.

SINGAPORE, 14 SEP 2018Coming off a comprehensive 11-1 defeat by North Korea’s 4.25 SC in the AFC Cup Inter-Zonal semi-finals, Home United FC will now turn their attentions back to the Great Eastern-Hyundai Singapore Premier League (SPL) as they go away to face Hougang United FC on Saturday evening, 15 September. The match will kick off at Hougang Stadium at 5.30pm.

BACKGROUND Home’s AFC Cup dream may be over, but their league season is still very much alive.

With three games left to go in the SPL, the Protectors are tied with second-placed Tampines Rovers FC on 36 points and behind them only on goal difference. The best local side at the end of the season will gain entry into the AFC Champions League (ACL) preliminary round.

After an incredible run in this year’s AFC Cup, which saw them crowned ASEAN champions and go all the way to the Inter-Zonal semi-finals, Aidil Sharin’s men are now fuelled to go one step further by making the ACL for the first time in 2019.

“Of course we want to play in AFC Champions League… the stronger teams and players are there, so surely all footballers want to compete and challenge on another level. It would be exciting for us,” Home’s South Korean forward Song Ui-young said.

Having enjoyed a good two-week rest since the tough away trip to Pyongyang and with no more AFC Cup distractions, Home are now ready for the final push in the league.

“Since we returned from North Korea, we had plenty of rest time for ourselves and a few off days provided for the team,” revealed Song, who has 14 goals and two assists across both competitions. “We had a team barbeque session at East Coast Park on Wednesday and we enjoyed the bonding with each other.

“It was difficult previously to prepare with 100 per cent condition because we have to juggle SPL and AFC Cup; there was not enough time to rest and prepare for next match. But now it will be easier for us to cope.”

Next up for Home is an away test against cellar-dwellers Hougang, whom are in last-chance saloon to salvage a miserable campaign.

Dumped out of the Singapore Cup quarter-finals by holders Albirex Niigata FC (S) over two legs at the start of the month, the Cheetahs need nothing less than a win to avoid finishing bottom of the SPL for the first time since 2015.

Mid-season signing Chang Jo-yoon is desperate to help his team avoid that, although the odds look stacked against Clement Teo’s men.

“I’m so happy to join this lovely club and be back in my second home (Singapore) after almost four years,” said the 30-year-old, who played for Super Reds FC, Gombak United FC, Balestier Khalsa FC and Woodlands Wellington FC from 2009 to 2014.

“Clement, (assistant coach) Salim (Moin) and (general manager) Matthew (Tay) have been good to me, just like when we were in Woodlands together. So I’m feeling sorry for them because they believe in me but I’ve not played so well until now (one goal in five appearances) and am not able to help the club go above last place.

“Now we have three matches left and our target is nine points… All I want now is to show my best
performances. There’s no need to talk too much; now, the first thing we need is three points and to get our first home win of the season against Home United.”

A tough task against the AFC Cup ASEAN champions is made even harder for Hougang, with the absence of four key players. Syahiran Miswan, Muhaimin Suhaimi and Fareez Farhan are all suspended, while Iqbal Hussain is out of the rest of the campaign due to broken ribs.

Meanwhile for Home, goalkeeper Rudy Khairullah is ruled out for the season due to a shoulder ligament tear but everyone else can be called upon.

Hougang: LLLLL

01/07/18: Home 1-0 Hougang – Singapore Cup
02/05/18: Hougang 3-3 Home – Singapore Premier League
26/11/17: Home 1-0 Hougang – Singapore Premier League
15/10/17: Hougang 0-2 Home – Singapore Premier League
10/07/17: Home 1-1 Hougang – Singapore Premier League

Fazrul Nawaz – Hougang
Hougang need goals and the responsibility to get them will fall on Fazrul. Having netted just once since his mid-season loan move from Tampines, the 33-year-old will be eyeing better fortunes against Abdil Qaiyyim and company.

M. Anumanthan – Home
The last time these two sides met, it was Anumanthan’s long-range scorcher that proved to be the difference. The 24-year-old midfield hard man seems to save his best for games against his former side and will relish a blockbuster of a clash against Fabian Kwok in the middle of the park.

Hougang striker Chang:
“I’ve not changed as a player… there’s still time for me to show people what I’m good at and what kind of player I am. The season is finishing soon and I really hope I can stay at Hougang United for next season.

“I don’t need to say anything about Song because he has proved it himself this year. I met him first time when I was still in Gombak… he’s a friend of my brother so it’s easy to be friends with him. We talk sometimes with each other and we respect each other.”

Home forward Song: “I’m happy with my achievements this season, especially in AFC Cup where I could develop myself by playing against good players and strong teams.

“Now we are back to the SPL… I’m just going to focus on the last few matches of the season and help the team to achieve our dreams.”

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