High-flying Home stunned by Hougang
Hougang forward Fareez's late winner stuns high-flying Protectors
|HOME UNITED||HOUGANG UNITED|
|(Stipe Plazibat 36, Khairul Nizam 50)||(Nazrul Nazari 33, 41, Fareez Farhan 83)|
He let out a roar, pumped his fists and turned immediately to a jubilant bench that was already on their feet, ready to embrace him.
Philippe Aw masterminded a stunning upset with his Hougang United beating Home United 3-2 in a Great Eastern-Hyundai S.League thriller at the Jalan Besar Stadium last night.
Aw was enjoying the moment, and deservedly so.
Home are a team in form, have qualified for the AFC Cup Asean Zone final, and have a squad peppered with Singapore internationals.
But it clearly meant more than just that.
The affable Aw shook hands with everyone on the Home bench, bar one - head coach Aidil Sharin.
The duo clearly went out of their way to avoid each other after referee G Letchman blew the final whistle.
We all (enjoyed this win), it is pleasing for me to beat a team like Home who are in the AFC Cup Zonal final... it is very satisfying. Hougang coach Philippe Aw
Aidil took over the reins at Home after Aw left last season, with the latter hinting that Aidil interfered with his training methods before his departure, a fact that Aidil disputes.
"It's okay if he doesn't want to shake my hand, that's all right," said Aw after the game.
"It's not about me and him. This should be about local football, the players and the performance of the team.
"We all (enjoyed this win), it is pleasing for me to beat a team like Home who are in the AFC Cup Asean Zone final... it is very satisfying."
When asked about him snubbing Aw after the final whistle, Aidil said: "I can't answer that, sorry. We are professionals and my concern is my players. There are no hard feelings."
Aw seemed to have his tactics spot on, stifling Home dangerman Faris Ramli, while his charges sat back and hit on the break.
Hougang took the lead twice through wide man Nazrul Nazari, with Home equalising twice through Stipe Plazibat and second-half substitute Khairul Nizam.
Despite Hougang being pegged back for most of the match, Fareez Farhan struck the winner seven minutes from time, a left-footed curler from the top of the box beating stand-in Home goalkeeper Rudy Khairullah.
Rudy deputised for injured Singapore No. 1 Hassan Sunny who is recovering from a broken nose and dislocated shoulder in Home's last fixture - a 2-0 win over league leaders Albirex Niigata.
While there were high hopes that Rudy will provide good cover for Hassan, who will be out for another three weeks, the 22-year-old disappointed.
He looked to have got both hands to Nazrul's first goal in the 33rd minute, but contrived to let the ball past him.
Eight minutes later, he was beaten from a tight angle by the same player.
Aidil refused to blame his reserve goalkeeper.
"I take the blame for the result. The boys gave everything they had, fighting until the final whistle," he said, while conceding that the club will miss Hassan.
"Hassan is a leader, the captain of the team, and his presence is always a boost. I hope he recovers fast."
Despite the loss, Home are still third on 26 points, two behind second-placed Tampines Rovers, with Albirex leading the pack on 31 points.
With the win, Hougang leapfrogged Geylang International into fifth spot in the nine-team standings, on 16 points.