Cheetahs Look To Continue Good Form
Balestier Khalsa vs Hougang United
(29 July, Saturday, 7.30pm, Toa Payoh Stadium)
Written by: Ryan Low
After going their last six games unbeaten, a rejuvenated Hougang United side are looking to carry on in the same manner when they take on Balestier Khalsa in the Great Eastern-Hyundai S.League at Toa Payoh Stadium on Saturday night.
The Cheetahs looked to have gotten rid of the inconsistency which plagued them earlier in the season, notching up a series of good results against opponents of higher quality.
It was perhaps unlucky for them not to progress into The New Paper League Cup semi-finals, after going through the group stage unbeaten with three draws.
Head coach Philippe Aw is however looking at the positives as they turn their attentions back to the S.League, where they are targeting a top-four finish.
Hougang are currently in sixth place, two points behind Geylang International and six behind Warriors FC with two games in hand.
“We had a two-week rest and managed to play a friendly against Tiong Bahru FC, which we won 4-1,” he told sleague.com.
“After the League Cup, we have 20 over players to choose from. Even our captain Nurhilmi (Jasni) is back in training (after a two-month absence due to a fractured collarbone) so everyone’s fit.
“It’s good to see such competition and everyone’s fighting for their places. Hopefully we’ll be able to continue this good run.”
While Balestier are currently languishing third-from-bottom at the moment, Aw does not believe this fixture is a sure-win for his team.
The last time both sides met, Hougang won only by the odd goal courtesy of Nurhilmi’s first-half header.
“It’s going to be a tough game for sure,” said the 39-year-old. “Playing at Toa Payoh, it’s never easy. We know that they’re going to set up to make things difficult for us, so we need to be patient and make our chances count.”
The Tigers had ended an 11-game winless streak with a 3-0 thumping of Tampines Rovers in The New Paper League Cup group stages, but failed to follow that up as they fell to a 2-1 defeat to leaders Albirex Niigata (S) on Wednesday night.
Despite coming away empty-handed, the Tigers can take heart from a battling display which saw them kept the champions at bay for close to an hour.
“While it was a tough game, we showed a better line of defence to frustrate them and managed to score a goal as well,” said winger Hazzuwan Halim. “That will give us some confidence as we face Hougang next.
“We all know Hougang have been unbeaten for the last few matches and will be tough to beat. But if we continue to work together and be solid as a team, we can definitely be on par to give them a gruelling match.”
Trailing Hougang by 12 points with 11 games to go, Hazzuwan believes Balestier have what it takes to get out of the bottom three.
“I believe we can be in a better position than now,” said the 23-year-old, who has scored four goals this year.
“The strategy is to do our best and show our full abilities in every match.”
Suspensions: Hanafi Salleh, Kyaw Zayar Win (both Balestier Khalsa)
Balestier Khalsa - LLLWL
26/07/17 Albirex Niigata (S) 2-1 Balestier Khalsa
14/07/17 Balestier Khalsa 3-0 Tampines Rovers (The New Paper League Cup)
11/07/17 Brunei DPMM 3-0 Balestier Khalsa (The New Paper League Cup)
08/07/17 Balestier Khalsa 0-2 Geylang International (The New Paper League Cup)
03/07/17 Balestier Khalsa 1-2 Home United
Hougang United - WWDDD
13/07/17 Hougang United 2-2 Warriors FC (The New Paper League Cup)
10/07/17 Home United 1-1 Hougang United (The New Paper League Cup)
07/07/17 Hougang United 0-0 Albirex Niigata (S) (The New Paper League Cup)
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 (PHI) (RHB Singapore Cup)
Head to Head (S.League)
27/04/17 Hougang United 1-0 Balestier Khalsa
01/10/16 Hougang United 1-1 Balestier Khalsa
10/06/16 Balestier Khalsa 2-2 Hougang United
19/03/16 Hougang United 1-0 Balestier Khalsa
01/11/15 Hougang United 1-1 Balestier Khalsa