Van Huizen confident Shahril Ishak can fill void left by Faris and Plazibat

Christopher Van Huizen is confident that veteran forward Shahril Ishak can fill the void left by Faris Ramli and Stipe Plazibat.

Having lost a slew of big names for the 2018 season, Home United still managed to kick off their 2018 AFC Cup campaign with one win and a draw after two Group F matches.

A surprise 1-0 away win at Shan United on match day one was followed up by a hard-fought 1-1 draw at Jalan Besar Stadium against Ceres-Negros.

Without star men like Hariss Harun, Faris Ramli, Hassan Sunny and Stipe Plazibat who all left the Protectors’ den for Thai and Malaysian clubs, the S.League giants still have not looked out of place in the regional showcase.

First Training in Phnom Penh

Preparing to take on Boeung Ket FC ??

Posted by Home United Football Club on Sunday, 4 March 2018

“Stipe and Faris had a great season last year and stamped their mark on the team with a lot of goals and assists,” said Christopher Van Huizen.

“It will be very different this year for sure but with the new members of the squad coming in, I am pretty sure there combo plays and goals will continue to flow in time to come.”

Head coach Aidil Sharin has wasted little time in replacing 37-goal Plazibat and Faris by bringing home Singapore national team captain Shahril Ishak and adding firepower down the wings in the shape of Amy Recha, Hafiz Nor and Faritz Hameed.

While the flying wingers will provide the pace and attacking verve, Van Huizen reckons the return of captain Shahril will prove to be the masterstroke for the S.League contenders this year.

“Shahril is a killer on the field. It really doesn’t matter what position he plays in because he knows how to run the show,” he added.

“So having Shahril in the team is good for us because he comes with a lot of experience and we learn a lot more from the way he sets up the attacking play and this will benefit us at Home.

“Hopefully we can supply him with the right crosses and he can get amongst the goals.”

Next up for the Protectors will be a tough game in Cambodia against Boeung Ket Angkor on Tuesday, and while the Cambodians have lost their first two games in Group F, Van Huizen has urged his teammates to stay focused to secure a win.

“It has been a great start to the season for us but we have to stay the course and go for a win in Cambodia,” the Singapore International exclaimed.

“If we win our game while Ceres and Shan United play out a draw, that’ll put us in a comfortable position to make it through the group.”

Despite the 2018 S.League season not kicking off till end of March, the Protectors have not looked out of shape, something Van Huizen credits to the coaching staff for their shrewd planning.

He added: “It has been very difficult for us to get into gear as we only had a pre-season tournament in Indonesia and a couple of friendlies in Kuala Lumpur to get ourselves ready.

“It can be challenging to get into the groove of things but it is our aim to play in the AFC Cup and while the two games have been extremely tough, this is what we have come to expect of the region’s top competitions. Nothing less!”

A win in Cambodia on Tuesday and a draw in the other group match between Ceres-Negros and Shan could be enough to put Home United into top spot in Group F.