Match Of The Week

Football: Hougang and Geylang waiting for the win of change

Bottom club Geylang International's Fumiya Kogure (in green) tussling with Young Lions' Irfan Fandi on Wednesday. The teams drew 1-1.
Bottom club Geylang International's Fumiya Kogure (in green) tussling with Young Lions' Irfan Fandi on Wednesday. The teams drew 1-1.PHOTO: SINGAPORE PREMIER LEAGUE

Hougang, Geylang hope to score their first victory when they meet tonight

SINGAPORE PREMIER LEAGUE

Hougang United v Geylang

Hougang Stadium, 5.30pm


The football league table is a cruel thing: it rewards only wins, not effort. The Singapore Premier League's (SPL) is no different.

At one end are defending champions Albirex Niigata, who have won all six of their matches to build an eight-point lead at the top.

And at the other, there are Geylang International and Hougang United, winless after seven and six games with two and three points respectively.

But the hard running and perseverance on the field is what has both sides believing that the elusive first win of the season is within reach when they clash today at the Hougang Stadium.

Hougang will draw confidence from their battling 0-1 loss to Albirex last Sunday, with a Kenya Takahashi free kick the only difference between the two sides.

"We may have lost to Albirex but we played well, so we know we can play good football and match up with anyone in the league," said Hougang coach Philippe Aw, whose side also recorded a comeback 3-3 draw against Home United the previous week.

  • UPCOMING FIXTURES

  • TOMORROW

    Balestier v Brunei DPMM

    Toa Payoh, 5.30pm

    Warriors v Albirex

    Choa Chu Kang, 5.30pm

    WEDNESDAY

    Young Lions v Albirex

    Jalan Besar, 7.45pm

    SATURDAY

    Hougang v Young Lions

    Hougang, 8.30pm

    Balestier v Home

    National Stadium, 8.30pm

  • GRASSROOTS EVENTS

  • TODAY

    Fifa Live Your Goals Festival

    Queensway Secondary School, 3pm

    Hougang CSC v Dads for Life friendly match

    Hougang, 3pm

    TOMORROW

    Fifa Live Your Goals Festival

    Bowen Secondary School, 8-9.30am

    Balestier U-16 v

    Combined Schools U-17

    Toa Payoh, 2.30pm

    Warriors children kick-about Choa Chu Kang, 3.30pm

"I told the boys that we need the same attitude against Geylang that we went into the Albirex game with.

"We can't be complacent.

"They are chasing the first win as well and they are going to come here and be aggressive and fight for every ball."

Meanwhile, Geylang were headed for their first win of the season on Wednesday night, only for Young Lions substitute Ifwat Ismail to return to haunt his old club with the equaliser eight minutes from time in a 1-1 draw.

Said Eagles coach Hirotaka Usui: "It's difficult that we've had only two days' recovery from (the Young Lions match) but the good thing is that we gained confidence from how we did in our last game.

"Hougang have good attacking players like Shahfiq Ghani with the speed and technique to control the game. We will need to focus on our defence."

Usui added that he is aware of the threat Shahfiq poses, having coached the 26-year-old forward last season when the latter was turning out for Geylang.

Heading in the opposite direction from Shahfiq was Japanese playmaker Fumiya Kogure, who scored 17 goals for Hougang over the past two seasons.

Kogure arrived in Singapore in 2015 with Albirex and led them to the Singapore and League Cup double and was voted the league's Player of the Year. He then joined the Cheetahs in 2016.

Said the 28-year-old Kogure in an interview for the SPL website: "After the match, I'll probably go over to say 'thank you' to them.

"And if I score, I will not celebrate because I still respect Hougang."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 12, 2018, with the headline 'Waiting for the win of change'. Print Edition | Subscribe