Last chance saloon for Hougang
|HOUGANG UNITED||NAGAWORLD FC|
Cheetahs' head coach Philippe Aw will be looking to shut down Cambodian outfit Nagaworld FC in a RHB Singapore Cup quarter-final fixture at Hougang Stadium tomorrow, as his side chase the remaining trophy still within their grasp.
Last month, they were knocked out of The New Paper League Cup in the group stage following a 2-2 draw against Warriors FC, after drawing all three of their group matches.
And with a 20-point gulf separating them from leaders Albirex Niigata in the Great Eastern-Hyundai S.League, Aw knows the Singapore Cup is their only chance of silverware this season.
Speaking to The New Paper, he said: "We are trying to climb up the league table as high as possible, but realistically, our last chance at securing silverware this season is the Singapore Cup.
"This cup is of great importance to us."
Aw will have almost a full squad to pick from apart from Lionel Tan and Amir Zalani, both of whom are in Australia to prepare for the SEA Games.
Competition for first XI spots is fierce, especially in attack.
He said: "With Nazrul (Nazari) back from suspension, we have plenty of options going forward.
"Fareez Farhan, Pablo (Rodriguez), Antoine Viterale, Iqbal (Hussain), (Fumiya) Kogure, and Fairoz (Hasan) are some of the attacking options we have at our disposal.
"It will be quite a headache to decide on the frontline because each player brings a different threat.
"Fareez gives us speed at the top, while Pablo gives us dominance in the air. So the players will have to understand if they are not selected and will have to remain professional about it."
At the other end of the field, Aw is also blessed with plenty of options.
He said: "We also have defensive options in our young Prime League boys such as Gerald Ting, Gareth Low, and Justin Hui.
"Atsushi Shirota will definitely play a crucial role in gelling the backline together.
"But in modern football, the first line of defence will start with the forwards."
Aw will be wary of the dangers posed by George Kelechi of Nigeria and Rwandan Atuheire Kipson, who combined to score three goals in Nagaworld's 4-3 win over Balestier Khalsa in June.
He stressed that there is no need to be too gung-ho, with a second leg coming up next Monday.
He said: "These two guys are strong, physical, and combine very well to terrorise defences. We need to defend really well, and double up on them.
"This match is not a one-off. We will attack when the opportunity arises, but we will ensure that we remain defensively organised and sound at all times."