Match Of The Week

Football: Hougang United in need of a miracle as Brunei DPMM in prime position to win Singapore Premier League

Nothing less than a win over Geylang International will do for midfielder Mahathir Azeman (pink boots) and his Hougang United teammates if they are to prolong the SPL title race. Should the Cheetahs drop points today, it will mean Brunei DPMM will secure
Nothing less than a win over Geylang International will do for midfielder Mahathir Azeman (pink boots) and his Hougang United teammates if they are to prolong the SPL title race. Should the Cheetahs drop points today, it will mean Brunei DPMM will secure their second league title after their 2015 triumph. ST PHOTO: LIM YAOHUI

Leaders DPMM are 5 points clear and title faves but Cheetahs won't give up hope

SINGAPORE PREMIER LEAGUE

Geylang v Hougang

Our Tampines Hub, 5.30pm

It is do-or-die as the Singapore Premier League (SPL) title race reaches a climax. A slip, mistimed tackle, sliced clearance or scuffed shot could decide the destination of the title.

Hougang United know this as they visit Our Tampines Hub today to take on Geylang International in their penultimate SPL game.

The Cheetahs are clinging on to the faint hope that they can pull off the greatest heist in the league's 24-year history by pipping Brunei DPMM, who have led the table for most of the season, to their first title.

They could even do it on DPMM's home ground - Hougang take on the 2015 champions in Bandar Seri Begawan in the final game of the season on Sept 29.

But they have to hope DPMM, who beat Warriors FC 3-0 last night thanks to Belarusian striker Andrey Varankow's hat-trick, slip up first against Tampines Rovers on Wednesday.

DPMM have 47 points and are five clear of Hougang with two games left.

Tampines were in the running for the championship until yesterday's 3-3 draw with Balestier Khalsa ended their title challenge.

  • TITLE RUN-IN

  • BRUNEI DPMM

    Wednesday: Tampines (Bandar Seri Begawan)

    Sept 29: Hougang (Bandar Seri Begawan)

    HOUGANG

    Today: Geylang (Our Tampines Hub)

    Sept 29: DPMM (Bandar Seri Begawan)

The Stags are no pushovers though, having beaten DPMM 3-1 in June.

DPMM are in a very strong position but Hougang coach Clement Teo was playing it cool, and said: "We know the situation and what needs to be done.

"We are not depending on others. What we have to do is ensure we win our last two games.

"My boys are working hard and enjoying themselves, because we as a club haven't been in this position (challenging for a title) before."

Championship or not, this is the best season in Hougang's history. In all their previous incarnations - from Marine Castle (1998-2001) to Sengkang Punggol (2006-2010) - their best league finish was sixth in 2016 and 2017.

The Cheetahs were ninth in 2018.

Midfielder Fabian Kwok, who has filled in admirably at the heart of defence in recent games for the injured Afiq Yunos, said: "The players have only one thing in mind and that is to win the game in front of us.

"We have not even thought about the (final) match against DPMM."

The 30-year-old also noted Geylang's good form, with four wins in their last five games.

Eagles coach Noor Ali said the key to his team's recent string of results was consistency forged by a settled line-up, something he fears might be affected by the recent two-week international break.

On the tight race for the league crown, he said: "All three teams have had the quality and consistently collected points throughout the season, and so whoever wins will be deserving."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on September 15, 2019, with the headline 'Hougang in need of a miracle'. Print Edition | Subscribe