Hougang's Hui off to a dream start
Justin Hui's year just keeps getting better.
In May, the 19-year-old scored a hat-trick in the National Schools A Division boys' football final to help Meridian Junior College seal a historic fourth consecutive title.
On Tuesday night, the Hougang United midfielder made his first start in the Great Eastern-Hyundai S.League, and scored the only goal of the match.
What made the strike even more special was that it came against his former team, the Garena Young Lions.
Hui, who is registered as a Prime League (Under-21 reserve league) player for Hougang, was over the moon with his performance.
The 2015 and 2016 The New Paper-Dollah Kassim award nominee told The New Paper yesterday: "I'm still feeling very, very happy.
"As a central midfielder, I hardly score. To do so in my first start in the S.League is a great feeling.
"I had trouble falling asleep last night, and eventually only slept at 2am.
"I had a lot of messages, people congratulating me and stuff... and I've kept watching the video of my goal again and again.
"I've watched it so many times I've lost count."
Hui made his S.League debut last September, coming on as a substitute for the Young Lions against Brunei DPMM.
Before Tuesday's game, he had made three S.League appearances for Hougang as a substitute, and started an RHB Singapore Cup fixture against Cambodian side Nagaworld in August.
Hougang coach Philippe Aw was delighted for his young charge, but warned it is only the beginning.
"I'm happy for the young boy," said the 39-year-old coach.
"More than the goal, last night he worked hard for the team and was not overawed by the occasion.
"He has displayed a good attitude and worked hard the whole season, and his performance was a good signal to the other young players in Hougang that if they also do the same, they will get their chance.
"But (Hui) still has a long way to get to the top.
"Scoring a goal against the Young Lions, a team of players his age, is nothing. He needs to consistently perform against older players.
"But if he keeps his head (level) and feet firmly on the ground, I think the boy can go far."
Aw said he has not finalised his squad for 2018 because of uncertainty over S.League clubs' funding for next year, but said he was keen to keep Hui under his wing.
The youngster is also looking ahead to next year already.
"There are three more S.League games this season, and I'll respect what the coach decides to do and who he decides to play," said Hui.
"But, at the moment, my focus is already on preparing for next season. The plan is to stay (at Hougang) and continue my development." - SAZALI ABDUL AZIZ
- Geylang v DPMM (Jln Besar Stadium)
- Warriors v Home (CCK Stadium)
- Tampines Rovers v Young Lions (Our Tampines Hub)
*All games at 7.30pm