In a bottom-of-the-table Singapore Premier League (SPL) clash, Warriors FC and Hougang United FC will duke it out at Choa Chu Kang Stadium on 2 June, Saturday in order to get their respective sides’ first win of the 2018 season.
Surely, something has got to give as both sides try to muster their first victory of the campaign with more than a third of the season already over.
BACKGROUND: Is it bad luck or down to the sheer lack of quality? That is the question both Warriors FC and Hougang United will be asking themselves after a woeful season so far.
The Warriors are still winless after ten games, garnering only six points from as many draws and have lost four games. The Cheetahs might have played two games less, but three draws and five losses do not make for pretty reading either.
As it stands, Warriors are on their worst-ever start to a domestic season, while Hougang are just three games away from equaling their own winless record since their reinvention from Sengkang Punggol Football Club.
Warriors Head Coach Mirko Grabovac has highlighted his team’s profligacy as a particular reason for their current position, after a paltry return of 10 goals from 10 games. This grieved him particularly after Warriors’ last game against Young Lions, where his ten-man side had to settle for a 1-1 draw.
But he will not accept it as an excuse against a porous Hougang defence, which has conceded 17 goals in eight games this season, an average of 2.125 goals per game.
The Cheetahs might have the tenacity to come from behind, as evident in their 3-3 draw with Home United FC earlier in the season when they overcame a two-goal deficit, but defensive lapses have seen them fall to 3-1 and 2-1 defeats to Geylang International and Young Lions FC respectively in their last two games.
The Warriors do fare slightly better on the defensive end with 15 goals conceded in 10 games and the Cheetahs definitely will have work to do after averaging only 0.875 goal per game ratio.
Recent history also indicates a low-scoring affair is on the cards, with both sides scoring less than two goals in the last three encounters. The last two games between both sides ended in 1-1 draws, while Warriors edged the Cheetahs 1-0 in August last season.
TEAM NEWS: Warriors FC will have to do without Hafiz Sulaiman’s services, after he was sent off for two bookable offences in the game against Young Lions. Poh Yi Feng could be his replacement but he too will need to be on his toes as he is on three yellow cards and another one could result in his suspension. Khairul Nizam is nowhere near a return to action.
Hougang will have a full team to choose from. Antoine Viterale missed out last time round but is in contention to lead the attacking front.
PREVIOUS FIVE MEETINGS:
15/04/18 Hougang 1-1 Warriors – Singapore Premier League
17/11/17 Warriors 1-1 Hougang – Singapore Premier League
04/08/17 Hougang 0-1 Warriors – Singapore Premier League
13/07/17 Hougang 2-2 Warriors – League Cup
11/05/17 Warriors 0-2 Hougang – Singapore Premier League
KEEP AN EYE OUT FOR:
Shamil Sharif – Warriors midfielder
The former Young Lions winger had a decent outing against his former club in the last game. His deliveries were on point, one leading to the opening goal of the match. He could have pocketed a couple more assists, had his teammates been more clinical.
Iqbal Hussain – Hougang forward
If you can’t defend, then outscore them. That responsibility will fall upon Iqbal’s shoulders, as he looks to lead the Cheetahs to their first win of the season. Blessed with impeccable technique and the willingness to shoot upon sight, the striker will be aiming to add to his three-goal tally.
WHAT ELSE THEY SAID:
Warriors FC Head Coach Mirko Grabovac: “If you have 100 percent chance, please score. 100 percent chances we missed many in the last two games. That’s the problem. Actually for me what I see is we make many chances. When you have pressure, you have to fight the pressure. Now we have no wins, they (the players) have the pressure. If we are going to win one game, it will make us very confident. Sometimes they make mistakes like young players, these experienced players”.
Hougang United FC Head Coach Philippe Aw: “When you are winning, your confidence is high and you go into games confident of delivering a result. But on a winless streak, somehow things won’t go your way and confidence wise your team will be affected. Warriors are a good team. There were games like the one against Geylang that they lost but they created so many chances. For them, they are almost in the same situation as us, they also concede soft goals and when there are chances they don’t score.”