Nigel Chin (Chinguson)
Wednesday, 1st August 2012, 8.30 PM
Venue: Hougang Stadium
Adults $5, Students $1
A resurgent Hougang United will take on a Tampines Rovers side undergoing a transition phase, following the replacement of head coach Steven Tan by technical director Tay Peng Kee after the fallout of their StarHub League Cup elimination.
Whilst Tay is a former Singapore International and holder of a AFC ‘Pro’ coaching licence, the move has still come as a shock to many local football observers. Tan, also a former international himself, had led Tampines to the S.League title in his maiden season, and guided them to the semi-finals of the RHB Singapore Cup, with the Stags sitting second in the league currently.
It remains to be seen if the team can adapt to Tay’s training regime and tactics in time. His opponents for his first game in charge are Hougang United, and Tampines will have their work cut out for them.
Despite their lowly position of eighth, The Cheetahs are one of the tougher sides in the league to crack. Despite only taking over from Aide Iskandar at the start of the year, Croatian Nenad Bacina has quickly got his squad playing to his instructions perfectly.
As shown on numerous occasions, the North-East side are capable of mixing it up with long diagonal balls or a flowing passing game. Led by their mercurial playmaker Ante Barac and the tricky Jordan Webb, Hougang have proven that they are fully capable of challenging the big boys on their day.
The only downside though, is the lack of natural goal-scorers in their ranks. Sobrie Mazelan is now deployed more on the right, while Mamadou Diallo does not score often enough to fall into that category. Webb is the only one to find the back of the net on a regular basis this season, and is their top scorer with nine goals.
With key defender Stanislav Vidakovic ruled out, it remains to be seen if Syaqir Sulaiman and Hasree Zais, who have slotted into the heart of the defence seamlessly, can cope with the star-studded strike force of the Stags. Boasting big names like Aleksandar Duric, Ahmad Latiff and Noh Alam Shah, as well as new foreign signing Sead Hazidbulic, it is tough to see Tampines not scoring
The key will lie in whichever team comes out top in midfield, so expect cautious tactics from both teams.
Hougang last five games: LWWWD
Tampines last five games: WWWWW
Suspended: Faizal Amir (Hougang)
Previous meeting: Tampines 1 Hougang 1 (Clementi Stadium)
Writer’s Prediction: Expect a low scoring affair with more emphasis on keeping possession, with neither side likely to go for the jugular. I fancy Hougang to cause an upset here, especially with the Hougang Hools backing them up on homeground. 2-1 to Hougang United. (SOURCE)