Tampines Rovers vs Hougang United: Can Akbar maintain his perfect record?

League Cup | Jurong West Stadium | Wed 13 Jul| 7.30pm  

Billed as

A test of Tampines Rovers' squad depth

The lowdown

Tampines Rover Form

  • Global 2-1 Tampines (Singapore Cup)
  • Tampines 3-1 Global (Singapore Cup)
  • Tampines 1-0 Albirex Niigata (S) (S.League)
  • Balestier Khalsa 2-3 Tampines (Singapore Cup)
  • Tampines 6-1 Garena Young Lions (S.League)

 

Hougang United Form

  • Hougang 1-3 Warriors FC (S.League)
  • Geylang International 1-2 Hougang (S.League)
  • Hougang 1-2 Albirex Niigata (S) (S.League)
  • Balestier Khalsa 2-2 Hougang (S.League)
  • Hougang 3-3 Albirex (Friendly)

League action will take a break for three weeks, as the League Cup gets underway, with Tampines taking on Hougang United in their first Group A game.

This is a tournament that Tampines have never won before, with two third-place finishes (in 2011 and 2012) their best results in the competition.

While the Stags will be determined to end their barren run in this Cup, it will not be an easy task, all things considered.

The Mighty Stags will be missing at least seven first-teamers due to national duty, while they will be mindful of incurring injuries unnecessarily, with Tampines still in the running for three other silverwares - most notably the domestic title as well as the AFC Cup.

Hougang on the other hand came close to winning the trophy back in 2011, as they failed to overcome Albirex Niigata (S) on penalties.

While the Cheetahs too have players called up by V.Sundramoorthy to join the Lions on a training tour, they will only be missing three first-team players.

After enjoying a perfect start as head coach of Tampines with seven straight victories, Akbar will be keen to extend his winning streak.

Team News

While the likes of Fazrul Nawaz and Izwan Mahbud will be away on international duty, Tampines can still call upon their foreign trio: Jermaine Pennant, Jordan Webb and Billy Mehmet.

Expect youngsters like Saifullah Akbar to be given a run out too, as Tampines will be a little lightweight in midfield with Yasir Hanapi and Izzdin Shafiq called up by Sundram, while Shahdan Sulaiman is still on the road to recovery.

Hougang will be missing first-choice goalkeeper Khairulhin Khalid, Nazrul Nazari and M.Anumanthan.  

Coach K.Balakumaran has also stated he will be looking to give youngsters like Iqbal Hussain a chance to prove their worth.

Key Battle: Jermaine Pennant vs Fumiya Kogure

Pennant can cause chaos if left unchecked

With Tampines looking light in midfield, Pennant should most probably be tasked to dictate play from the centre of the pitch.

His crosses and free-kicks will pose danger to the Cheetahs, so it is imperative that Pennant does not enjoy too much space or is fouled needlessly.

Kogure is also a competent playmaker, and how much Tampines see of the ball depends heavily on whether the Japanese can help dominate possession.

The Coaches

Akbar will have no choice but to give fringe players playing time, but it should not deter him from maintaining his philosophy of playing an attacking game.

His confidence will stem from the the foreign trio he possesses, as Webb, Pennant and Mehmet are a force to reckon with on their day.

Balakumaran will be hoping to enjoy some success in the Cup and so he promised to put in a fine mix of experience and youth.

Last Five Meetings

  • Hougang 1-1 Tampines (S.League, May ‘16)
  • Tampines 4-1 Hougang (S.League, Feb ’16)
  • Tampines 1-0 Hougang (S.League, Oct ‘15)
  • Hougang 0-3 Tampines (S.League, Jul ’15)
  • Tampines 2-0 Hougang (S.League, Mar ’15)

 

Facts and Figures

  • Tampines have never won the League Cup in their history
  • Tampines are on a seven-game winning run
  • The Stags have scored 21 goals in their last seven games, while conceding nine times
  • Hougang only won once in their last nine games
  • The Cheetahs have not managed to beat Tampines in their last six meetings. The last time they did so was in 2014, when they achieved a 4-2 victory.

FourFourTwo prediction

Tampines’ winning run might come to end in this game, but they should have enough in the tank to earn a draw. 1-1.

Photos: S.League