Singapore Premier League • August 25, 2014
Top-Six Spots Still Up For Grabs
Balestier Khalsa vs Hougang United
(August 27, Wednesday, 7.30pm, Toa Payoh Stadium)
Written by: Phoon Jia Hui
The equation is clear, gain a single point in their remaining two games of round two and they will be guaranteed of a top-half finish for the first time in club history. Lose this match, and the battle for the sixth spot will go down to the wire.
This surely should be enough motivation for Hougang United when they take on seventh-placed Balestier Khalsa at Toa Payoh Stadium on Wednesday evening.
The Cheetahs missed the chance to do so in their last game when they fell 2-1 to the Courts Young Lions on Saturday but they will certainly want to make amends with a victory over Balestier.
Under the leadership of coach Amin Nasir, Hougang have looked a different side this season as the former international has transformed them from also-rans to a side who are tough to beat.
One of key factors behind this is the striking partnership of Geison Moura and Diego Gama who have combined for 24 goals while goalkeeper and captain Fadhil Salim has been imperious in between the sticks.
That said, they know they can ill-afford to slip up and will be determined to come away with all three points and return to winning ways.
Balestier meanwhile come into this one on the back of an encouraging 3-3 draw with leaders Brunei DPMM and that result threw the title race wide open.
Marko Kraljevic’s side have had their fair share of injuries this season, with playmaker Park Kang Jin missing a considerable chunk in the first half while losing skipper Paul Cunningham to a knee injury which he has not fully recovered from.
However, they have coped well in the latter’s absence and even reached the last four of the RHB Singapore Cup where they will play Tampines Rovers next month.
Ties between these two sides have been tight affairs and this should be no different but fatigue could however be an issue for Hougang.
They will be playing this game after only four days of rest as opposed to Balestier’s six and this could play into the hands of Balestier who are much fresher.
The home side will however have to make do without left-back Syed Thaha who is serving the first of his two-match suspension after he was dismissed against DPMM.
Suspension: Syed Thaha (Balestier Khalsa)
Key Men To Watch
Balestier Khalsa: Kim Minho
The South Korean who is equally adept at playing in both midfield, is in a rich vein of goalscoring form lately as he has found the net in the last two games he has played in.
With nine goals so far, he is just behind Balestier’s top scorer Goran Ljubojevic (13) in the goalscoring charts.
Kim scored the opening goal against Geylang International in Week 19 and looked lively in that game, with 80% of his passes successfully finding its target.
Hougang United: Geison Moura
Like partner-in-crime Diego Gama, Moura has impressed for the Cheetahs this season with his exploits upfront.
He has been lethal in front of goal this season, netting 15 times and the Balestier defence will have to keep a tight leash on him.
The Brazilian scored a late equaliser to rescue a point for Hougang against DPMM in Week 19 with only his second shot of the game, which further proves that the point on him being an excellent finisher.
Balestier Khalsa – DWLWD
21/8/14 Balestier Khalsa 3-3 Brunei DPMM
31/7/14 Geylang International 1-2 Balestier Khalsa
24/7/14 Tampines Rovers 3-0 Balestier Khalsa (StarHub League Cup Plate Final)
19/7/14 Balestier Khalsa 2-0 Singapore Recreation Club (StarHub League Cup Plate SF)
11/7/14 Brunei DPMM 2-2 Balestier Khalsa (StarHub League Cup Group D)
Hougang United – LDLWL
23/8/14 Courts Young Lions 2-1 Hougang United
3/8/14 Brunei DPMM 2-2 Hougang United
21/7/14 Tanjong Pagar United (4P) 0-0 (2) Hougang United (StarHub League Cup SF)
17/7/14 Home United 1-2 Hougang United (StarHub League Cup QF)
14/7/14 Hougang United 2-3 Brunei DPMM (StarHub League Cup Group D)
Head to Head (S.League)
9/5/14 Hougang United 2-1 Balestier Khalsa
5/8/13 Balestier Khalsa 3-1 Hougang United
9/4/13 Hougang United 1-3 Balestier Khalsa
17/7/12 Balestier Khalsa 0-3 Hougang United
8/3/12 Hougang United 0-1 Balestier Khalsa
3/10/11 Hougang United 2-0 Balestier Khalsa
23/6/11 Balestier Khalsa 2-4 Hougang United
29/3/11 Hougang United 2-2 Balestier Khalsa