News Singapore Premier League • September 27, 2018

Singapore Premier League Preview: Shahfiq determined for Hougang to end year-long win-less home streak against Geylang


Shahfiq has scored two free-kicks in as many matches.

SINGAPORE, 27 SEP 2018After netting spectacular free kicks in the last two games, Hougang United FC’s Shahfiq Ghani is keen to carry where he left off as the Cheetahs look to down Geylang International FC at Hougang Stadium on Saturday evening, 29 September, to end their beleaguered season on a high note. The Great Eastern-Hyundai Singapore Premier League (SPL) match will kick off at 5.30pm.

BACKGROUND It has been a season to forget for Hougang, who have always prided themselves as a small club that punch above their weight.

After successive sixth-place finishes in 2016 and 2017, the Cheetahs failed to kick on this term. With 11 points from a possible 69, they are already consigned to bottom place for the first time in four years.

They did salvage some pride last weekend with a courageous 2-2 draw against champions Albirex Niigata FC (S) to halt their 38-match winning run at Jurong East.

Having netted his first Hougang goal from a neat dead ball in a 2-1 defeat against Home United FC the week before, Shahfiq was at it again with another stunning free-kick deep into injury time to spoil Albirex’s SPL title party that night.

The 26-year-old wants to carry on in the same manner as Clement Teo’s men target their first home win since September 2017 to repay the Hougang HOOLS’ (Hougang’s unofficial supporters’ club) unwavering support.

“This last game of the season is important for us and we need to win it with pride,” he declared. “The dressing room is all positive for this game and we owe the HOOLS a win after so long.

“As for myself, I have to credit the team for pushing me in every way to get me back into shape (after a mid-season injury)… It’s pleasing to score from free-kicks as it’s been a while since I managed to do it.”

It has been a similarly disappointing year for Geylang after finishing among the top five in 2016 and 2017.

The Eagles will finish amongst the bottom three for the first time since 2015, but forward Fairoz Hasan is one of rare bright spots of the campaign.

He reflected on a “strange year”, where he netting a career-high seven goals after not scoring more than three in a season during his decade-long SPL career.

“I’m satisfied with my individual performances, although I hope I could have done even more for the team,” said the 29-year-old. “As a team, it’s quite disappointing as I felt that we have a good mix of young and experienced players.

“However I feel that we have made progress and improvement from the start, so let’s end the year well with a win against Hougang.”

For Hougang, attacker Iqbal Hussain will miss out due to broken ribs while defender Faiz Salleh is suspended.

As for Geylang, forward Shawal Anuar remains out due to his anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) injury while midfielder Fuad Ramli serves the second of his two-match suspension. However, the good news is that Azhar Sairudin is back from suspension to face his old employers.

Hougang: LLLLD
Geylang: LLDLD

05/08/18: Geylang 0-3 Hougang – Singapore Premier League
12/05/18: Hougang 1-3 Geylang – Singapore Premier League
18/08/17: Hougang 0-1 Geylang – Singapore Premier League
20/05/17: Geylang 1-1 Hougang – Singapore Premier League
27/02/17: Hougang 2-0 Geylang – Singapore Premier League

Stanely Ng – Hougang
Once a bright young talent, Ng reminded the fans of his qualities with a sparkling display against Albirex the last time out. With nifty dribbling skills and pace to burn, the 26-year-old will pose a threat to a Geylang backline that has already been breached 56 times this term.

Azhar Sairudin – Geylang
On his last visit to Hougang Stadium, Azhar showed Hougang what they were missing out on with a superb curling strike in a 3-1 win back in May. The 31-year-old will pose a big threat in the attacking third with his vision and ability to link up with the forwards.

Hougang forward Shahfiq: “I have another season with the team so I hope we can push more in 2019. This season is something for us to remind each other that every game counts. We’ve been playing well but just can’t get the results. In football, it’s still the goals and points that matters more than the performances.”

Geylang forward Fairoz: “It’s always bittersweet to be back at Hougang Stadium… I miss my friends and the facilities for the past few years and it’s sad that my time with Hougang had to end in an unsavoury way. But I guess I owed it to them for releasing me, so that I could move on to play for Geylang and achieve a personal record for myself.

“This game will be special for me because my beautiful baby girl arrived in the world just a few days ago and it would be great if I can score a goal for her!”

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