Rejuvenated Hougang gunning for Home scalp
|HOME UNITED||HOUGANG UNITED|
Hougang United are walking with a spring in their step.
Their surprise 1-0 win over Philippines Football League outfit Ceres Negros two Tuesdays ago was just the boost they needed.
Ceres, who are in the Asean zonal final of the Asian Football Confederation Cup, were widely considered the strongest foreign side in the RHB Singapore Cup this year, while Hougang have been struggling to break into the top half of the Great Eastern-Hyundai S.League table.
The win has given the Cheetahs belief that they have what it takes to match an in-form Home United at the Jalan Besar Stadium tomorrow night.
Said Hougang coach Philippe Aw: "Home United are a quality team, full of national players and quality foreigners.
"But, the win against Ceres certainly gave us confidence."
Hougang's meeting with the Protectors in April did not end well for them, however, as they conceded two second-half goals at Hougang Stadium to lose 2-0.
Aw stressed that they will have to make their chances count this time round.
Hougang's attackers will be encouraged by the unavailability of Home goalkeeper Hassan Sunny, who broke his nose and dislocated a shoulder in the last match against Albirex Niigata.
Said Aw: "In the first game, we matched them in terms of creating chances. Though we weren't able to score, the performance gave me confidence.
"Hassan's absence is a loss for Home - he's the best local goalkeeper and their leader, with a strong presence. But, they have more than enough in their other players to make up for it.
"This game will be a tough one for us and we are definitely the underdogs, but I believe that if we work together as a team, we can win."
But, sixth-placed Hougang will be coming up against an equally exuberant Home, who shattered league leaders Albirex's 11-match unbeaten start to the season with a 2-0 win last Friday.
Home coach Aidil Sharin, whose third-placed team can close the gap at the top of the table to two points if they beat Hougang, said that it is crucial for his side to seize the early initiative tomorrow.
He said: "It's not going to be an easy game.
"We will miss Hassan, but the (team) morale is still up because of the win over Albirex.
"The most important thing for us is to score as early as we can to wrap up the game.
"Hougang are a defensive team and we need to break their wall."