Hougang Breeze Past Insipid Warriors

Japanese playmaker Fumiya Kogure pokes home Hougang's first goal.
Photo: Heinkel Heinz


Norah Cheryl Tanuwidjaja
Writer
The Unofficial S.League Podcast


Warriors FC were beaten for only the second time this season but it was surprising how they bland they were on Thursday night. Hougang United, whom most expected to capitulate at the hands of the Warriors and especially so at the north-western team's stronghold of Choa Chu Kang, sprang a surprise to claim all three points.

Despite the scoreline, the match was by large a lacklustre affair which only sprang alive in the final ten minutes and that small window saw Fareez Farhan produce a moment of brilliance, firing home a thunderous strike after Antoine Viterale teed him up to put the game beyond the Warriors' reach. 

The Warriors were actually the first team to threaten their opponents in the 17th minute when Jordan Webb played a clever backheel to Joel Tshibamba, which led him on a bursting run past Ali Hudzaifi. The Dutch-Congolese striker played a low return pass to Webb but Hougang goalkeeper Khairulhin Khalid did brilliantly to turned the Canadian's shot away for a corner.

Shahril Ishak then played a wonderful through pass which found Tshibamba in the penalty box in the 29th minute and the big man cut past Lionel Tan nimbly but Atsushi Shirota threw his body in the way just in time to block off the striker's effort.

It was Hougang's turn to threaten in the 35th minute when Fabian Kwok threaded a pass to Fumiya Kogure on the left flank and the Japanese playmaker's low cross almost crept to Antoine Viterale but Hyrulnizam Juma'at dived low to stop the low cross from reaching the youngster.

The Hougang Cheetahs then opened the scoring in the 52nd minute when Kogure reacted quicker than Ang Zhi Wei to poke the ball into the net after Hyrulnizam did very well to parry Hougang team captain Nurhilmi Jasni's shot.

Photo: Heinkel Heinz

Spectators then witnessed a blunder from Tshibamba in the 70th minute when he spun around his marker to attempt a volley in the penlalty box but swiped his left foot at thin air, missing the ball completely with Khairulhin evidently stranded. 

The final moments of the match saw the Warriors push centre-back Kento Fukuda up front and the Japanese whipped in a peach of a cross but there was no Warriors players to be found in and around the 6 yard box.

Khairulhin thoroughly deserved his clean sheet and pulled off what must have been the save of the match from Shahril Ishak's firecracker in the 85th minute.

Hafiz Osman was then marched off the pitch for receiving his second yellow card of the night in the 87th minute and not long after, Fareez nailed the coffin with his long range effort.

Warriors FC Coach Razif Onn was understandably disappointed but attributed it to his team playing poorly as a whole as opposed to singling out any individual performances. "We were in a rush to get the ball into the opponents half but we were just unable to finish. I have to look into certain aspects into my tactics and I have to make it clear to my players, only those who performed will be picked (in the next fixture). I have discussed this with my coaching team and we are prepared to make drastic changes if necessary."

On the several missed chances, Razif did not hide his vexation: "I would like to talk about the goals we scored, not the chances we missed. Let's not talk about that." he responded when asked by a member of the media. "We are not playing better from our last loss against Albirex. Even against Albirex, we got two goals. And I think we were too focused on attacking (to get the equalizer) which led to (Hougang's) second goal."

Hougang Coach Philippe Aw was satisfied with the way the Cheetahs played: "We came with a game plan and we stuck to it. I think this win would be good for our confidence and Khai(rulhin) had another clean sheet. This confidence is an important factor as we head into the next game against Geylang."

On Antoine Viterale's performance, Aw heaped praised on the young Italian "I did he did very well, especially so in the second half. He responded well to instructions, made more runs behind the (Warriors) defence (as compared to the first half) to create more space and he got a few free kicks for us in good positions. I think if you're talking about young players you have to look at Lionel (Tan) as well. These are two young players who have been doing well for us and I think they deserve more playing time."



Full-Time at Choa Chu Kang Stadium: S.League (11 May 2017):

Warriors FC - 0
Hougang United - 2

Scorers:

Warriors FC - N/A
Hougang United - Fumiya Kogure 52', Fareez Farhan 93'

Warriors FC: Hyrulnizam Juma'at, Syaqir Sulaiman, Kento Fukuda, Shahril Ishak (C), Firdaus Kasman, Hafiz Nor (Fadhil Noh 71'), Hafiz Osman, Joel Tshibamba (Ridhuan Muhd 81'), Jordan Webb, Zulfadli Zainal Abidin, Ang Zhiwei (Emmeric Ong 68')

Hougang United: Khairulhin Khalid, Zulfahmi Arifin, Nurhilmi Jasni (C) (Fareez Farhan 59'), Fumiya Kogure, Fabian Kwok, Al Hudzaifi (Faiz Salleh 86'), Nazrul Nazari, Azhar Sairudin (Delwinder Singh 77') Atsushi Shirota, Lionel Tan, Antoine Viterale



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