Football: Hougang United aim for better recovery and silverware with new sponsors The Physio Circle

The Physio Circle co-founder Maheen Gul and Hougang United chairman Bill Ng.
The Physio Circle co-founder Maheen Gul and Hougang United chairman Bill Ng.ST PHOTO: CHONG JUN LIANG
(From left) Hougang United general manager Matthew Tay, The Physio Circle co-founder Maheen Gul, Hougang coach Clement Teo, chairman Bill Ng and The Physio Circle co-founder Shoban Rahulapaskaran.
(From left) Hougang United general manager Matthew Tay, The Physio Circle co-founder Maheen Gul, Hougang coach Clement Teo, chairman Bill Ng and The Physio Circle co-founder Shoban Rahulapaskaran.ST PHOTO: CHONG JUN LIANG

SINGAPORE - After twice leading the club to their highest Singapore Premier League (SPL) finish of third place in the last three seasons, Hougang United coach Clement Teo is no longer satisfied with a top-three target.

Despite having to contend with nouveau riche champions Lion City Sailors and AFC Cup exertions next year, the 54-year-old is gunning for a historic piece of silverware for the modest heartland club who are on the rise.

He said: "We finished third in 2019 and 2021 and we must improve on that. We can definitely make a strong push for the Singapore Cup. In the AFC Cup, we also want to make it past the group stage."

And the Cheetahs hope their new three-year sponsorship deal with The Physio Circle will help them manage the rigours of playing in the three competitions. The deal, worth more than $100,000 annually, will see The Physio Circle's logo emblazoned on the front of the Hougang jersey as they provide sports recovery and rehabilitation services for the club.

During the signing ceremony at its Upper Serangoon Road outlet on Monday (Nov 15), Teo said: "It's challenging because we don't have the same resources, but we want to emulate the Sailors in terms of how a professional club should train and be run.

"(As such) we want our players to get proper care and recovery as we fight for honours on all three fronts."

The Physio Circle was co-founded by Maheen Gul and Shoban Rahulapaskaran in 2020, with satellite locations in Kallang and Bukit Timah. The 31-year-old Britons are football fans who also follow SPL action.

Gul said she was impressed by Hougang's progression under Teo, as well as the strong bond within the squad and staff.

She said: "When we first started talking to the backroom staff about this partnership, it was clear how knowledgeable and passionate they are about their players not only in terms of their performance but also their overall health and well-being. This resonated with our core values and we hope to support them in their journey ahead."

Looking ahead, Teo shared that he has retained 90 per cent of the local roster, as well as Japanese midfielder Kaishu Yamazaki. The Cheetahs have signed Croat midfielder Kristijan Krajcek from Balestier Khalsa and defender Artur Vieira and striker Pedro Bortoluzo from Brazil.

Even as they continue to look for creative and strategic partnerships to compete against the privatised Sailors, Hougang chairman Bill Ng hinted it may not be long before his club also go private.

While The Straits Times understands that there will not be a new privatised club for the coming season, Ng said: "If the authorities feel privatisation is the way forward, we have partners who are keen, and we are ready for it."