News Singapore Premier League • August 10, 2018

Singapore Premier League Preview: Hougang’s Fazrul eyes upset against former side Tampines


Fazrul Nawaz is searching for his first Hougang United goal.

SINGAPORE, 10 AUG 2018The spotlight will be on Fazrul Nawaz on Sunday night, 12 Aug as he returns to face parent club Tampines Rovers FC with cellar-dwellers Hougang United FC at Our Tampines Hub. The Great Eastern-Hyundai Singapore Premier League (SPL) match will kick off at at 5.30pm.

BACKGROUND The biggest surprise of the mid-season SPL transfer window was undoubtedly Fazrul Nawaz going on loan to Hougang from Tampines in a deal that will last till the end of the 2019 season.

Despite being with Hougang for just a matter of weeks, the veteran forward has already made his presence felt at the club.

Apart from providing another dimension to the Cheetahs’ attack, Fazrul has been a mentor to the club’s young players on and off the pitch – a role that he is relishing.

“First of all, I would like to thank the Hougang management and coaching staff for welcoming me to this club,” the 33-year-old said. “I can say facilities in the dressing room here at Hougang are the best amongst all the clubs here – that’s one of the reasons that convinced me (to join).

“Also it was due to the young players over here. They have a lot of potential… they just need some proper guidance. The morale was low when I just came into the club, so I told them to look at their own abilities.

“I told them, ‘each and every one of you has the potential… do not let the results get to your heads, keep working hard and the results will come’.

“I’m happy that they’re starting to believe in themselves and we just got our second win of the season (by beating Geylang International FC 3-0 last Sunday).”

Fazrul will now come up against his parent club and he is ready to put sentiment aside as Hougang bid to avoid finishing bottom for the second time in four years. With six games left to play, Clement Teo’s charges are seven points adrift at the bottom, with a game in hand.

“It’s just another game for me as a professional football player,” said Fazrul, who scored 17 goals for Tampines from 2016 to 2018. “Tampines will have more pressure because they are the favourites… For Hougang, the boys are motivated and we’re confident to put up a good fight.”

With Fazrul now on the opposite end, former teammate Khairul Amri knows the threat Hougang can pose on Sunday evening.

“I can say I’m half-happy for him (Fazrul)! I wanted him to stay but I’m happy that he’s now enjoying a new lease of life with Hougang,” said Amri, who has scored four times in five games against Hougang since returning to the Stags in 2017.

“Patience is the key to breaking  down this Hougang team and it’s very important for us to make it into the AFC (Cup) again.”

History favours Tampines, with them having won the last five head-to-head encounters. Hougang’s last win in this fixture came in August 2016 where they prevailed 2-1 at the Stags’ old home through a last-gasp Fumiya Kogure goal.

For Tampines, Shannon Stephen and Safirul Sulaiman are out for the rest of the season due to anterior cruciate ligament injuries. However veteran centre-back Daniel Bennett is back after a one-game suspension.

As for Hougang, teenage left-back Jordan Vestering will serve out the third and final game of his three-game ban while wide man Nazrul Nazari continues to work his way back to full fitness after his shoulder operation. Vice-captain Fabian Kwok is also doubtful after a calf injury that saw him miss the 3-0 win against Geylang.

Tampines: LDWWL
Hougang: LLLLW

09/06/18: Hougang 0-2 Tampines – Singapore Premier League
18/04/18: Tampines 4-0 Hougang – Singapore Premier League
09/09/17: Tampines 5-1 Hougang – Singapore Premier League
25/05/17: Hougang 0-3 Tampines – Singapore Premier League
03/03/17: Tampines 2-1 Hougang – Singapore Premier League

Zulfadhmi Suzliman – Tampines
With searing pace and good crossing ability, Zulfadhmi has figured prominently in Coach Juergen Raab’s plans. Likely to come up against makeshift right-back Muhaimin Suhaimi, the 22-year-old will fancy his chances to adding to his tally of one goal and two assists.

Illyas Lee – Hougang
With Adam Mitter’s departure in the mid-season transfer window, Lee is now the central figure of the Hougang backline.

After a convincing showing against Geylang in which he starred with a goal-line clearance, the 22-year-old will need to do more of the same against Amri and company.

Tampines forward Amri:
“It was a disappointing 2-1 loss to Young Lions the last time out, but I think it’s a one-off for us. It shows that no SPL team can be taken lightly and we should never do that.

“As for myself, I’m happy that I’m quite free of injuries this year. I think it’s because of the coach’s training programme and also because I take my recovery days very seriously. I’m on 13 goals now and it’s tough to catch (Shuhei) Hoshino on 19 goals. But there’s still games remaining and there’s still every chance to do so.”

Hougang forward Fazrul: “Of course I want to get my first goal (for Hougang) out of the way, but I know it’s a new challenge to adapt to a new playing style. I’m staying patient because the goals will come. It’s not just about me – the rest of the players have to step up as well and I can see they really want to score.

“I just hope to see Hougang getting as many points as we can and bring it forward to next season. We shouldn’t be where we are at now, so let’s start to challenge the teams in this league.”

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