Hougang's Aw targets TNP League Cup glory
Hougang coach wants to deliver club's first major trophy to reward fans
|HOME UNITED||HOUGANG UNITED|
This is his first season with Hougang United, but it hasn't stopped head coach Philippe Aw from dreaming big.
He wants to pull off something no Hougang coach has managed - win a major trophy.
The 39-year-old sees The New Paper League Cup as his best chance of landing silverware this term, and his mission continues at the Jalan Besar Stadium tonight, when his in-form side take on Great Eastern-Hyundai S.League high-flyers Home United.
Winning the competition will be the best way to reward the passionate Hougang fans, he said.
"We want to be the first group of people to bring success to Hougang United and the League Cup is a good opportunity to do it," said Aw.
"Our fans are the No. 1 supporters and no other fanbase in the league comes close to them.
"They cheer when we win, and they cheer even when we are losing.
"They are our 12th man on the pitch and what better way than to clinch silverware for them to celebrate (their passion)."
Hougang got off to a good start in their TNP League Cup campaign last Friday, when they held tournament favourites and league leaders Albirex Niigata to a 0-0 draw in their opening Group A match.
The creditable result came on the back of an impressive three-match winning sequence, during which they beat Ceres Negros of the Philippines in the RHB Singapore Cup, and S.League second-placed team Home and Albirex in league outings.
The purple patch they are experiencing now is in stark contrast to their woes earlier in the season, when they scored just one goal over four matches in the whole of April.
Also evident was the upturn in fortunes of January signing Pablo Rodriguez, who has been off-colour until recently.
The Spanish striker was especially impressive in the 2-1 league win over Albirex last Monday, scoring the equaliser after the White Swans had taken an early lead.
Aw said that a recent heart-to-heart talk with Rodriguez had fired up the player.
He said: "He worked really hard. As a foreign signing, expectations are high and it is not easy and Pablo had problems adapting to the brand of football we played.
"He has his strengths. His physicality, hold-up play, and aerial ability are a few of the reasons we signed him.
"Recently, I had a chat with him and I told him that he had to show me (his desire to score).
"People have already written the team off at the start of the season and people have also been writing him off.
"I told him that he still has the chance to fight for the team and himself, and to zip up the critics."
In-form Cheetahs midfielder Nazrul Nazari, who scored two goals in Hougang's 3-2 league victory over Home 10 days ago, has noticed a surge in confidence in his camp.
Pointing out that the players believe firmly in Aw's leadership, Nazrul told The New Paper: "Philippe is a good coach and has been very fair with everyone throughout the season.
"It doesn't matter if you are not good, but he really values team players and gives chances to those who are very hardworking.
"The team is highly motivated, and there is friendly competition for playing time on the field among the players.
"All of us are ready to give coach a headache in selecting his first 11 and best 18 for every single game."
Home coach Aidil Sharin demands to see maximum effort from his charges in tonight's game.
Asked how he is preparing to stop the attacking threat of one of the most talked-about S.League outfits in recent weeks, Aidil said: "In 90 minutes, they are 80 minutes behind the ball with nine men behind the ball. What attack are we talking about?
"We cannot reveal our game plan but in any case what is important is how to beat them. Everything will be shown on the field when we play with them.
"Football is about 11 players on the pitch working hard for 90 minutes. I treat all my players fairly and they will be given a chance to play if they show me something."