News • July 5, 2017

The New Paper League Cup 2017: Hard Work Key For Cheetahs



The New Paper League Cup 2017 (Group A)

Hougang United vs Albirex Niigata (S)

(7 July, Friday, 7.30pm, Hougang Stadium)

Written by: Phoon Jia Hui

Having faced off in the Great Eastern-Hyundai S.League earlier in the week, Hougang United and Albirex Niigata (S) will lock horns again in The New Paper League Cup Group A match at Hougang Stadium on Friday night.

The encounter on Monday night saw the Cheetahs come away with a narrow 2-1 victory over the White Swans to record their third win on the trot in all competitions as the S.League title race was blown wide open.

While it will ‘not be easy’ against a wounded Albirex side, Hougang head coach Philippe Aw has has expressed his optimism ahead of their opener.

“I did not expect the results against three very good teams,” he admitted.

“But after each win, the confidence of the team went up. It’s a good feeling and we want to build on this momentum.

“It’s not a matter of whether the opponents are better or not, but about the mentality of the players. They need to believe that they can do it.”

Hougang will have two more games coming up against Home United and Warriors FC in Group A and Aw believes his charges are more than up for it.

“We don’t necessarily have to go all out and win the first game but if we can, it will be good,” he said.

“There are three games in total but two wins should guarantee a spot in the semi-finals.

“It’s going to be a tough group; Albirex are defending champions, Home and Warriors are not doing that badly in the league either. It doesn’t mean that we don’t stand a chance if we are in this kind of group because anything is possible.”

With games coming up thick and fast, Aw has hinted at the possibility of squad rotation as he looks to navigate through a gruelling schedule.

The former Home coach surprised many by fielding his second-string team in their win over Albirex. Prime League starlets Antoine Viterale, Gareth Low and Gerald Ting were all given a run-out while Spanish forward Pablo Rodriguez was handed his first start in seven games.

“While I’m not sure how many clubs will give young players a chance, for me at least I see the League Cup as an opportunity for young players to showcase themselves,” he added.

“We need to look at the bigger picture; the young boys came in (in the last game) and they did well so I was impressed. But we will have to check on the players’ condition before I can decide on my match day squad. There’s still a good chance for the other players to prove their worth.

“If they are not at 100%, they could still play some part but we have other players who are available.”

It ended goalless between the two teams when they last met in the 2013 League Cup while it is worth noting that Albirex won the 2011 edition, beating Hougang 5-4 on penalties.

Hougang defender Delwinder Singh will however miss out on Friday night as he serves a one-match suspension carried over from last year.

Suspension: Delwinder Singh (Hougang United)

Hougang United – DLWWW

03/07/17 Hougang United 2-1 Albirex Niigata (S)

30/06/17 Home United 2-3 Hougang United

20/06/17 Hougang United 1-0 Ceres-Negros FC (RHB Singapore Cup)

25/05/17 Hougang United 0-3 Tampines Rovers

20/05/17 Geylang International 1-1 Hougang United

Albirex Niigata (S) – WWWLL

03/07/17 Hougang United 2-1 Albirex Niigata (S)

23/06/17 Albirex Niigata (S) 0-2 Home United

16/06/17 Albirex Niigata (S) 4-0 Brunei DPMM

26/05/17 Albirex Niigata (S) 8-0 Garena Young Lions

21/05/17 Tampines Rovers 1-4 Albirex Niigata (S)