Hougang hoping to regain early-season form
Cheetahs looking to recapture early-season form which saw them top the S.League
GEYLANG INTERNATIONAL v HOUGANG UNITED
(Saturday, 8pm, Bedok Stadium)
They drew comparisons with surprise English champions Leicester City after upsetting Home United 1-0 on the opening day of the season, followed by a subsequent run that saw them top the Great Eastern-Yeo's S.League.
But Hougang United have since been brought back down to earth.
The Cheetahs have not won in seven matches in all competitions and are in fourth place on 19 points, a staggering 16 points behind pace-setters Albirex Niigata.
Their formidable home record - undefeated in six matches at the Hougang Stadium - was also brought to a halt by Albirex in a 2-1 defeat on Wednesday.
But Hougang head coach K. Balagumaran believes the Cheetahs can bounce back.
"I believe in this group of players. I always tell them that we have a chance in every match," he told The New Paper.
"We have a young team and I have to keep them motivated.
"There is a lot of work to do for sure. We are different from teams like Tampines (Rovers) and Home (United), who have many experienced players.
"Nobody is weak in this league. Look at Home, they were not doing so well at the beginning but now they are in third place after winning several games in a row.
"So, anything can happen this season and all we need are a few good results in a row to get back on track."
The Cheetahs will be hoping to reverse their fortunes tonight, when they take on Geylang International at the Bedok Stadium.
The Eagles lost 2-0 to Warriors FC on Wednesday - their second defeat on the trot - but will not be easy opponents.
After a poor start to the season, Geylang found form before the international break, winning four of their last five matches in all competitions, including three in the league.
Even though his team beat Geylang 3-1 in their last encounter in April, Bala is anticipating a stern test for his charges.
"Geylang are a good team. I saw their match against Warriors in the RHB Singapore Cup and I was impressed," said the 51-year-old.
"They have some talented players and, on their day, they can beat anyone. Just because we defeated them before does not mean the same thing will happen.
"So, I think the key for this game is to remain focused and maintain concentration for the full 90 minutes.
"Hopefully, we can learn from all our past matches and use that to improve and get our season back on track."
Geylang general manager Aizat Ramli said his players are also determined to put a halt to their own mini-slump.
"We lost our last game, and we just have to look forward... That game is done and dusted," he said.
"We know that Hougang are a very tough team to beat.
"They are tactically disciplined, and a very hard and robust team. "Having said that, this is our second encounter with them and, coming on the back of a loss, our players are eager to get back to winning ways.
"I shall leave it to the players to show how hungry they are to redeem themselves, against Hougang."