Cheetahs to go for the jugular against Warriors
|HOUGANG UNITED||WARRIORS FC|
Hougang United are riding on the momentum of a seven-match unbeaten streak and will be looking to go for the jugular in their Great Eastern-Hyundai S.League showdown with the Warriors FC at the Jalan Besar Stadium tonight.
The Cheetahs have been in steady form after securing four draws and three wins in their seven-game run.
But they will be without key players Lionel Tan, who is with the national Under-22s on their Australia training tour, and Nazrul Nazari, who is suspended.
Nonetheless, Hougang coach Philippe Aw is not worried.
Speaking to The New Paper at the Hougang Stadium, Aw said: "We have been missing Lionel since the (The New Paper) League Cup, and we have prepared to do without him because he is representing the nation at the SEA Games.
"Nazrul is definitely an important part of the team, but his suspension will only mean that there will be an open spot to be contested.
"We have many attacking options in Pablo (Rodriguez), Antoine (Viterale), Fairoz Hasan, Fareez (Farhan), and Iqbal (Hussain), and I am more than confident that the players will be able to step up and contribute to the whole team."
When asked about what the unbeaten streak brings to the club, Aw said: "The unbeaten streak has given us good confidence, and we know that confidence is big factor in football.
"As a team, we know we can match up to anybody if we continue to work hard and play as one. But having said that, we still need to cut away the mistakes because that would mean three points instead of one."
Aw singled out Japanese defender Atsushi Shirota as a constant presence in the Hougang defence, and will be counting on the services of the centre back.
Said Aw: "Atsushi is a constant leader in the defence and has proven time and again in his performances during training and games.
"He is a great role model for younger players such as Lionel and Gerald Ting and has done well to guide the younger players in the backline.
"He is physically strong, reads the game well, and is comfortable on the ball. He doesn't clear the ball mindlessly, and builds up the play from the back. With him, we pass with intention."
Nonetheless, the Hougang side are hard at work and do not plan to rest on their laurels against a physical team like Warriors.
Aw said: "Warriors have the likes of Shahril Ishak and Shaiful Esah, who were the cream of the crop of their batch, and Jordan Webb has been on fire, so it is going to be tough.
"They are dangerous on the attack, but I believe that the defence starts from the top.
"That is what it is like in modern football."