Goal and win give Farhan, 16, dream debut

Singapore Premier League debutant Farhan Zulkilfli (left) opened the scoring to pave the way for Hougang United's 2-0 win at Home United.
Singapore Premier League debutant Farhan Zulkilfli (left) opened the scoring to pave the way for Hougang United's 2-0 win at Home United.ST PHOTO: GIN TAY


Home United 0

Hougang United 2

Hougang United coach Clement Teo's faith in midfielder Farhan Zulkifli was rewarded yesterday by the teenager, who scored on his Singapore Premier League debut.

Farhan, in becoming the league's second-youngest scorer at 16 years and 231 days old, set the tone for the 2-0 win at Home United.

Captain Fazrul Nawaz scored the second goal on 78 minutes at the Bishan Stadium to send Hougang up to third in the table on 22 points, overtaking Tampines Rovers (20 points) as the best local club. Brunei DPMM (30) and Japan's Albirex Niigata (24) are the top two.

Farhan's goal in the 12th minute came after he pounced on a ball that defender Aqhari Abdullah lost, which the No. 43 went on to slam into the top corner.

Hariss Harun, who was 16 years and 174 days old when he scored for the Young Lions in 2007, remains the youngest scorer.

Farhan is also the third-youngest league debutant behind Vasileios Zikos Chua (16 years 80 days) and Hariss (16 years 110 days), who made their bow last year and in 2007 respectively.

Farhan is still part of Hougang's Under-18 team and Teo said the decision to put him in the starting line-up was based on instinct.

He added: "Sometimes coaches just have this gut feel. I told him to go in, enjoy himself and take on the player when they are one-on-one.

"(Gut feel aside), players have to have the basic abilities to play at the highest level in Singapore. He's shown his composure and he's trained well with the other players.

"Everyone is very happy for him but he must keep his feet on the ground and not get carried away."

Hougang did not let any of their players speak to the media.

Home boss Mohamed Noh Rahman was not surprised by Farhan's performance, having coached him in a youth team.

"He has good potential but it remains to be seen whether he can step up to the next level," he said.

His captain Shahril Ishak was sent off in the 55th minute, which Rahman felt made it an "uphill task" for his 10 men.

Saying it was a "pity" his men could not convert possession into chances, he added: "Credit to (Hougang), they made it difficult for us with eight or nine players behind the ball and were disciplined in staying in their own position."

In the other match, the Young Lions edged out Geylang International 2-1 at Our Tampines Hub.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on June 30, 2019, with the headline 'Goal and win give Farhan, 16, dream debut'. Print Edition | Subscribe