News Singapore Premier League • July 30, 2018

Singapore Premier League Preview: Hougang bank on Chang to slay Warriors


All eyes are on Chang to make an impact on his return to Singapore.

SINGAPORE, 30 JULY 2018With South Korean attacker Chang Jo-yoon cleared to make his debut, Hougang United FC will be looking to reignite their disappointing Great Eastern-Hyundai Singapore Premier League (SPL) season when they host Warriors FC on Wednesday night, 1 August. The match will kick off at 7.45pm at Hougang Stadium.

BACKGROUND It had looked like Hougang was turning the corner after getting four points from two games to kick off the Clement Teo era.

However, it was back to square one for the Cheetahs thereafter with four straight defeats and the sequence of results has left them seven points adrift at the bottom with just eight games left to play.

Despite that, Teo believes there is no need for alarm bells to start ringing just yet, claiming that he is “enjoying” himself.

“You know what I’m enjoying the most? I see the players getting upset or crying after a defeat,” he said. “It’s unfortunate that we could not sustain what we did against Balestier or DPMM, but the players have established confidence in what we (the technical team) want them to do and they executed it with the best of their abilities.

“They have pushed their bodies to the limits; what more can you ask from them?”

In a bid to resolve their goal-scoring issues – a league-worst 12 – Hougang have swooped to bring in a pair of strikers during the mid-season transfer window.

Loan signing Fazrul Nawaz made his debut against Young Lions in their last game, while Chang Jo-yoon is set to do the same against Warriors after obtaining his work permit.

Teo is confident that the duo will give his side some much-needed firepower as they seek to avoid finishing bottom for the first time since 2015.

“It was a rush (to start Fazrul a day after his signing) of course. It was my instinct at that point of time to start him and I’m responsible for taking that risk,” he explained. “It wasn’t because Fazrul wasn’t fit, it was just that he and the rest naturally still lacked understanding.

“As for Chang, he’s someone who made an impact previously in Singapore. After a few years back in (the lower leagues of) Korea, he’s now more matured and will give us the experience that we’ve been lacking.”

The Warriors will not be easy fodder, having won their last two game to consolidate their position at fifth.

Midfielder Ammirul Emmran believes the uniformed outfit have the impetus to charge towards their best-ever finish in four years, having not finished above fifth since winning their ninth league title in 2014.

“Two wins and two clean sheets in a row definitely shows the discipline that we have on the field and it’s a morale-booster for the whole team to work even harder to get another win,” said the 23-year-old.

“We have just six more matches to go and we will take one game at a time. We want to take maximum points and catch up on points with Home and DPMM to finish in the top three. It’ll surely be a close fight towards the final round of the season.”

Hougang will miss Jordan Vestering as the young left-back serves the first of a two-game suspension for his expulsion against Young Lions.

As for the Warriors, forward Khairul Nizam will be an absentee as he serves the second of his two-game suspension for his red card against Geylang.

Midfielders Ho Wai Loon and Poh Yi Feng are also doubtful due to recent injuries, but forward Ignatius Ang has recovered from an ankle injury and could see some game time in this one.

Hougang: DLLLL
Warriors: LLLWW

02/06/18: Warriors 2-0 Hougang – Singapore Premier League
15/04/18: Hougang 1-1 Warriors – Singapore Premier League
17/11/17: Warriors 1-1 Hougang – Singapore Premier League
04/08/17: Hougang 0-1 Warriors – Singapore Premier League
13/07/17: Hougang 2-2 Warriors – Singapore Premier League

Chang Jo-yoon – Hougang
The 30-year-old attacker is back in Singapore after three-and-a-half seasons back in native Korea and he will be looking to replicate the impact that made him one of the most popular foreign players back then.

Jonathan Behe – Warriors
The 29-year-old French forward has never hid his ambitions of finishing as the league’s top scorer in his second spell with the club. Trailing Albirex’s Shuhei Hoshino by five goals in the race for the Golden Boot, he will be relishing the opportunity to notch a few against a Hougang defence that has kept just a single clean sheet in 16 outings.

Hougang Caretaker Head Coach Teo:
“It’s tough with five games in 18 days after a long (two-and-a-half weeks) break without competitive games. It’s a totally different ball game in terms of training and playing games on a regular basis.

“We’re very encouraged with what Fazrul has done since coming in. He treated here as his home and took the responsibility to guide the younger players on his own accord – getting them to practice on stuff together even after training sessions. He’s someone whom the juniors look up to and he’s been very motivating.”

Warriors midfielder Ammirul: “We know how Hougang can be a big threat to us. They can counter us if we make mistakes. So, we definitely have to be focus and concentrate from the first whistle until the end. We can’t make mistakes at the back and have to take our chances properly.

“On a personal basis, I still have a lot of room for improvement since this is my first season at Warriors. I feel like I need to contribute more to the team although I’ve been playing most of the matches. I want to keep improving and learn as much from the senior players at the same time.”

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