It will be a Singapore Premier League (SPL) bottom-of-table clash on Saturday, July 14 when Young Lions host Hougang United at Jalan Besar Stadium.
The Young Lions were in encouraging form at the start of the season, losing only twice in their first eight games. At one point they even sat in fourth place, exceeding the expectations of many.
But it would prove to be a false dawn, as Young Lions lost six of their next seven games to plummet near the foot of the table. They are currently six points away from Hougang, sitting in eighth place.
That gap could be further reduced this Saturday, if the Young Lions are not careful. Hougang finished last season in sixth place and the squad is in disbelief at the current position they find themselves in.
“To us, our current place in the league can be seen as something unfortunate. We have been playing well from the start but we do not have the luck to convert those chances,” Hougang forward Fareez Farhan said.
“Overall there is a lot of positivity, I don’t think the results do us much justice. It is really more down to luck, we have the quality, both at the back and in front.
Hougang will be kicking themselves ahead of this game, as they were downed by a last-gasp goal by Brunei DPMM forward Shah Razen Said in Brunei in their last outing. That their hard work to come back twice from behind in the 3-2 loss was undone so late, is a tad hard to take.
The Cheetahs are definitely gunning for only their second win of the season and they will not be looking show the Young Lions any mercy.
The hosts too will not be coming into this game in a good shape after another defeat in the league, this time 2-0 to Home United FC.
The squad has been decimated by injuries and suspensions of late that Head Coach Fandi Ahmad should be glad to take even a point, even if his side have proven they could still get three points, having done the double over Hougang this season.
Hougang United have a clean bill of health with no injuries or suspensions to worry about.
On the other hand, the Young Lions missed at least 10 players in their last game. They were only able to name five substitutes instead of the seven allowed.
Among the notable absentees were Ikhsan Fandi and Irfan Fandi. The siblings may continue to be unavailable. Adam Hakeem too will be suspended.
Zharfan Rohaizad and R. Aaravin will return from suspension to ease Fandi’s dilemma.
Young Lions: LLDLL
Hougang United FC: WDLLL
19/05/18 Hougang 1-2 Young Lions – Singapore Premier League
04/04/18 Young Lions 2-0 Hougang – Singapore Premier League
24/10/17 Young Lions 0-1 Hougang – Singapore Premier League
15/09/17 Hougang 2-1 Young Lions – Singapore Premier League
11/03/17 Hougang 2-0 Young Lions – Singapore Premier League
KEEP AN EYE OUT FOR:
Rusyaidi Salime (Young Lions)
The 20-year-old has shown plenty of promise over the last few seasons and he is still continuing to do so.
He times his runs forward and is able to get into the dangerous places to pull the trigger or look for a teammate. Will be a threat to Hougang if he is not kept in check.
Fareez Farhan (Hougang United)
The forward has not played as well he would have liked, having only scored two goals in the 2018 campaign.
But this is a pacey forward blessed with technical abilities and he will be a danger to opponents.
WHAT ELSE THEY SAID:
Young Lions Defender R. Aaravin: “I would say that yes to a certain extent our squad is depleted and we haven’t had the best results of late. However we have put in great performances where we had chances to win games and get better results.
“Despite being at the bottom, Hougang have a fantastic pool of players and it won’t be easy but we are ready for the challenge. Hougang have found their footing and it’ll not be an easy walk over. It’ll definitely be a tough game but we still want maximum points
“Definitely, it has been a frustrating run of matches where we had decent performances. So if I get the opportunity to play I’ll definitely do my best to help the team in every possible way to get the win.”
Hougang United FC Forward Fareez Farhan: “Of course it was demoralising to concede so late against Brunei DPMM. We could have won the game, we controlled possession but luck just wasn’t on our side. We converted the chances we got, but we are so unlucky to concede so late.
“Playing against Young Lions, it’s the best chance for us to win a game. I played for Young Lions before so I know the team has full of speed because they are young and eager to win games. They have that little bit of fire, which is important to have in a footballer.
“But we have to pick up the three points. We drew and lost games, but the team is doing a lot better, we are creating chances and playing decent football. It is always bad to underestimate your opponents, complacency may hit us very hard. We have to be full of desire and it doesn’t matter who the opponents are, we just need to get three points.”