Hougang continue to defy odds
|HOME UNITED||HOUGANG UNITED|
|(Stipe Plazibat 38)||(Fairoz Hasan 36)|
They started with seven Singapore internationals in their team, the S.League top scorer, and another earmarked to be naturalised for the Lions.
And still, Home United could not break down Hougang United.
Philippe Aw's Cheetahs beat Home 3-2 in the league just 11 days ago, and they followed that up with another stifling performance that saw them earn a 1-1 draw last night.
For all of Home's domination at the Jalan Besar Stadium in The New Paper League Cup Group A fixture, they struggled to break down a resolute Hougang side who are now unbeaten in five games in all competitions.
The hot-tempered encounter ended with seven yellow and two red cards. Home finished the game with nine men.
Said Aw: "This was a wasted opportunity, getting three points here would've been good.
"We were comfortable in the first half, and one mistake in the middle third (of the field) and we were punished - for me this was two points dropped."
Hougang took the lead through Fairoz Hasan in the 36th minute, the utility player slotting home his own rebound after Home goalkeeper had saved well from his initial shot.
But Hougang's joy lasted less than three minutes.
The Great Eastern-Hyundai S.League's top marksman Stipe Plazibat, who has 18 league goals and has scored in every domestic football fixture he has played this year, yet again found the net.
This was a wasted opportunity, getting three points here would've been good. Home coach Philippe Aw
Said Home coach Aidil Sharin: "I think we dominated them and played good football. We created several chances, but the ball just wouldn't go in.
"I felt my players gave everything."
The four-team group is now finely poised after Albirex Niigata beat Warriors FC 2-0 at the Jurong East Stadium in the other Group A match last night.
Albirex lead the pool with four points, and the Warriors are second with three points from their win over Home last weekend.
Hougang, in third place with two points, have a point more than bottom-placed Home.
Home must beat Albirex on Thursday to have any hope of progressing, and they will have their work cut out for them.
Defender Afiq Yunos was sent off after receiving two yellow cards last night, and his dismissal infuriated teammate Khairul Nizam, who was also given his marching orders.
The Singapore international, who had already been substituted, had to be restrained after reacting angrily to seeing his teammate rather harshly sent off.
"We will need to sit down, see the video, review and then make a decision (on Nizam). He is a young player," said Aidil of the 26-year-old forward.
Hougang will continue with their squad rotation policy as they look to qualify for the semi-finals from a difficult group.
"After two tough games, we're still in the running, and we're happy about that," said Aw.
"Albirex are a good team, and I believe they will top the group...but on (Thursday), we will put out a fresh team to battle with the Warriors."
Home United: Hassan Sunny, Abdil Qaiyyim (Shamil Sharif 68), Afiq Yunos, Hariss Harun, Sufianto Salleh (Iqram Rifqi 73), Haziq Azman, Izzdin Shafiq, Faris Ramli, Stipe Plazibat, Sirina Camara, Khairul Nizam (Marijan Suto 77)
Hougang United: Ridhuan Barudin, Nazrul Nazari, Delwinder Singh, Atsushi Shirota, Faiz Salleh, Ali Hudzaifi, Fairoz Hasan (Fareez Farhan 66), Fabian Kwok, Afiq Noor (Justin Hui 66), Antoine Viterale (Iqbal Hussain 84), Fumiya Kogure
LAST NIGHT'S OTHER GROUP A RESULT:
|Albirex Niigata||Warriors FC|