Jia Hui Chicharito and Nicholas Neo
|Photo: Mohd Safwan bin Saiful Sopian|
With only four points separating them and league leaders Tampines Rovers, three points against Hougang United will close the gap between them and the Stags to just a point as both teams head into the final fixture.
A draw at the Hougang Stadium would be enough mathematically, but they Wasps will still need Harimau Muda to do them a favour by beating Tampines next week to ensure that it happens. A defeat, of course, would mean that they finish runners-up.
DPMM beat struggling Woodlands 2-1 in their last game on Sunday to record their fourth consecutive victory, albeit unconvincingly as they needed captain Rosmin Kamis’ second-half goal to earn the win against the Rams who had taken a shock lead in the first half. Lucky for them, they had Striker Shahrazen Said, who scored the equalising goal just before the break.
Their opponents for tonight are the eighth placed Cheetahs, whom they beat 5-1 during their first meeting in May at the mighty Hassanal Bolkiah National Stadium. But DPMM will not find the going easy against the resurgent Cheetahs, who have shown vast improvement since that thrashing and are currently on a nine-match unbeaten run which began earlier this June.
Coach Nenad Bacina has drilled Hougang into a well-oiled unit this season, and are no longer pushovers in the league. As evidence of their newfound prowess, they have held both Home United and Tampines to draws and recorded a victory over Albirex Niigata (Singapore) recently.
Apart from a minor blip in form early this season, Bacina has done an excellent job with the limited resources has in his hands, as the Croatian masterminded several tactical changes in his formation. For example, the deployment of traditional striker Mamadou Diallo in midfield has paid plenty of dividends.
One man the Bruneians will have to look out for in the Hougang side will be winger-cum-forward, Jordan Webb. The Canadian has been firing on all cylinders this season and is currently the club’s top scorer with 11 goals this season.
His pace and his trickery down the flanks has caused many problems for opposing defences and with DPMM missing defensive stalwart Tales Dos Santos, Webb would fancy a goal or two here in front of the vocal home fans.
However, Brunei DPMM boast quite a strike force, with the likes of Brazillian Patrick Da Silva and talismanic striker Shahrazen Said up front, and the likes of defender Syaqir Sulaiman and Lau Meng Meng will need to be on the top of their toes.
In addition, they will need to watch out for midfield maestro Ivan Jerkovic, who can thread plenty of deadly through balls to their forward men. If Hougang’s Ante Barac can keep him silent, they might just win the midfield battle.
Hougang last five games: DWDDD
DPMM last five games: WWWWD
Previous meeting: DPMM 5 Hougang 1 (Hassanal Bolkiah National Stadium) (SOURCE)