News Singapore Premier League • June 1, 2018

Singapore Premier League Preview: Warriors and Hougang clash as both chase first win of season


Suria Prakash of Warriors FC in action.

SINGAPORE, 31 MAY 2018In a bottom-of-the-table Great Eastern-Hyundai Singapore Premier League (SPL) clash, Warriors FC and Hougang United FC will duke it out at Choa Chu Kang Stadium on Saturday, 2 June, in order to get their first win of the 2018 season. The match will kick off at 8.30pm.

BACKGROUND Is it bad luck or a sheer lack of quality? That is the question both Warriors and Hougang will be asking themselves after a woeful season so far.

The Warriors are still win-less after ten games, garnering only six points from as many draws. The Cheetahs might have played two games less, but three draws and five losses do not make for pretty reading either.

As it stands, Warriors are on their worst-ever start to a domestic season, while Hougang are just three games away from equaling their own win-less record since their reinvention from Sengkang Punggol Football Club.

Warriors Head Coach Mirko Grabovac has highlighted his team’s profligacy as a particular reason for their current position, after a paltry return of 10 goals from 10 games.

But he will not accept it as an excuse against a porous Hougang defence, which has conceded 17 goals in eight games this season.

The Cheetahs might have the tenacity to come from behind, as evident in their 3-3 draw with Home United FC earlier in the season when they overcame a two-goal deficit, but defensive lapses have seen them fall to 3-1 and 2-1 defeats to Geylang International FC and Young Lions respectively in their last two games.

The Warriors do fare slightly better on the defensive end with 15 goals conceded in 10 games and the Cheetahs definitely will have work to do after averaging less than a goal per game.

Recent history also indicates a low-scoring affair is on the cards. Their last two games against each other ended in 1-1 draws, while Warriors edged the Cheetahs 1-0 in August last season.

Warriors FC will have to do without Hafiz Sulaiman’s services, after he was sent off for two bookable offences in the game against Young Lions. Striker Khairul Nizam is nowhere near a return to action.

Hougang will have a full team to choose from, with Antoine Viterale in contention to return from injury.

Warriors: DDLLD
Hougang: DDLLL

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 – League Cup
11/05/17: Warriors 0-2 Hougang – Singapore Premier League

Shamil Sharif – Warriors
The former Young Lions winger had a decent outing against his former club in the last game. His deliveries were on point, one leading to the opening goal of the match. He could have pocketed a couple more assists had his teammates been more clinical.

Iqbal Hussain – Hougang
If you can’t defend, then outscore them. That responsibility will fall upon Iqbal’s shoulders, as he looks to lead the Cheetahs to their first win of the season. Blessed with impeccable technique and the willingness to shoot upon sight, the striker will be aiming to add to his three-goal tally.

Warriors Head Coach Grabovac:
“If you have a 100 per cent chance (to score), please score; we’ve missed too many in the last two games, that’s the problem. When you have pressure, you have to fight the pressure. Now we have no wins, they (the players) have the pressure. If we are going to win one game, it will make us very confident. Sometimes they make mistakes like young players, these experienced players.”

Hougang Head Coach Philippe Aw: “When you are winning, your confidence is high and you go into games confident of delivering a result. But on a win-less streak, somehow things won’t go your way and confidence-wise your team will be affected. Warriors are a good team. There were games like the one against Geylang that they lost but they created so many chances. For them, they are almost in the same situation as us, they also concede soft goals and when there are chances they don’t score.”

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