Unbeaten Hougang out of League Cup
Cheetahs eliminated from TNP League Cup despite staying unbeaten in all three group games
|HOUGANG UNITED||WARRIORS FC|
|(Fareez Farhan 35, Pablo Rodriguez 57)||(Shahril Ishak 4,
Ho Wai Loon 37)
They were on an unbeaten run of five games across all competitions, and at the Hougang Stadium last night, they extended the sequence to six.
But, Hougang United were still unable to make it out of the group stage of The New Paper League Cup, after a 2-2 draw with Warriors FC saw them finish third in Group A.
The point, however, was enough for the Warriors to clinch second place, three points behind group winners Albirex Niigata who beat Home United 1-0 yesterday.
The outcome was a blow for Hougang coach Philippe Aw, but he stressed that it is also important to see the positives from their TNP League Cup campaign, which saw them draw all three of their group matches.
He added that the impressive performances of his team's youngsters were encouraging.
He said: "When the TNP League Cup draw was made, nobody would have thought we had a chance in this group.
"We take big heart in this run we have - we are unbeaten in six games now, against top opponents. My aims in this league were to gun for a cup and to expose the youngsters in my team and I think we have achieved (the latter).
"Gerald (Ting, defender) played a good game today - and in earlier games, it was Lionel (Tan).
"Many more are coming through and we will keep this belief, push through and keep giving young players the opportunity to shine."
Warriors coach Razif Onn was relieved that their pragmatic approach paid off.
He said: "We (played) safe… At this juncture, I'm relieved with a draw but we have to look forward to the next match in the semi-final.
"Whoever it is, we will take it seriously."
The visitors got off to a solid start.
Warriors skipper Shahril Ishak nodded in a free-kick from teammate Fazli Jaffar in just the fourth minute to give his side the lead.
But Hougang midfielder Fareez Farhan deftly converted Azhar Sairudin's lofted ball to level the score in the 35th minute.
The hosts' joy was shortlived though.
Two minutes later, the Warriors restored their lead via Ho Wai Loon - who usually plays as a defender but took up a midfielder's role last night - as he smashed home a volley past Hougang custodian Ridhuan Barudin.
Forward Pablo Rodriguez then equalised for the Cheetahs in the 57th minute when he headed home a cross from Nazrul Nazari.
To Onn's relief and Aw's dismay, the scoreline stayed that way until the final whistle.
HOUGANG UNITED: Ridhuan Barudin, Ali Hudzaifi, Atsushi Shirota, Fareez Farhan (Iqbal Hussain 77), Azhar Sairudin (Fumiya Kogure 66), Pablo Rodriguez, Nazrul Nazari, Fabian Kwok (Fairoz Hasan 85), Syahiran Miswan, Zulfahmi Arifin, Gerald Ting
- WARRIORS FC: Hyrulnizam Juma'at, Zulfadli Zainal, Syaqir Sulaiman (Shaiful Esah 83), Hafiz Osman, Kento Fukuda, Emmeric Ong, Andrei Ciolacu, Jordan Webb, Shahril Ishak (Hafiz Nor 67), Ho Wai Loon, Fazli Jaffar (Danial Zulkifli 74)
LAST NIGHT'S OTHER RESULT
- HOME UNITED 0 ALBIREX NIIGATA 1