Young Lions vs Hougang United: Will the Cheetahs and Young Lions fall off the pace again?

S.League | Jalan Besar Stadium | Thurs 10 Mar | 7.30pm 

Billed as

A meeting between last season’s cellar-dwellers

The lowdown

Garena Young Lions (GYL) and Hougang United both started the season in fine form, shocking their respective opponents.

The Young Lions grabbed a 1-0 win over Balestier Khalsa, while Hougang earned a victory over Home United by the same margin.

But since then, both sides' form has been unsatisfactory to say the least.

GYL FORM

  • Warriors FC 2-0 Young Lions (S.League)
  • GYL 0-2 Geylang International (S.League)
  • GYL 0-5 Albirex Niigata (S) (S.League)
  • GYL 1-0 Balestier Khalsa(S.League)
  • GYL 2-6 Warriors FC (Friendly)

Hougang United FORM

  • Hougang United 0-0 Brunei DPMM (S.League)
  • Tampines Rovers 4-1 Hougang United (S.League)
  • Hougang United 1-0 Home United (S.League)
  • Hougang United 4-2 Garena Young Lions (S.League)
  • Albirex Niigata (S) 1-0 Hougang United (Friendly)

Hougang were thrashed 4-1 by Tampines Rovers in their next game before they improved and held reigning champions Brunei DPMM 0-0.

Coincidentally, the Young Lions were given a spanking of their own as the White Swans beat them 5-0 before they suffered back-to-back 2-0 defeats to Geylang International and Warriors FC.

If things remain unchanged, both teams could find themselves down at the bottom of the table once again, as they did last year. Hougang finished last in the league and the Young Lions sat just one spot above.

Team news

The Young Lions have been unable to tap into Khairul Amri’s experience since the season began and it looks unlikely he will feature again.

Amri was slated to miss only two games but a third GYL game in a row came and went and his name was still missing from the teamsheet. Even if the Singapore international has recovered, it is unlikely he will start this match.

For Hougang, Fumiya Kogure should finally make his first start for the Cheetahs.

The Japanese came off the bench for two games in a row but he should have regained match fitness and is able to start after recovering from injury.

Key Battle: Jozef Kaplan vs Benjamin Bertrand

After his performance against Warriors FC, many have been singing the praises of keeper Bertrand.

His shot-stopping abilities will come in handy against the likes of Stipe Plazibat and Jozef Kaplan, as both of them will pull the trigger whenever they get the chance.

Past meetings

  • 01/10/15 Hougang United 2-2 Courts Young Lions
  • 20/07/15 Courts Young Lions 1-3 Hougang United
  • 02/03/15 Hougang United 1-1 Courts Young Lions
  • 18/10/14 Courts Young Lions 2 - 0 Hougang United
  • 23/08/14 Courts Young Lions 2 - 1 Hougang United

 

Given how the Young Lions seem unable to score at the moment, their defence will be essential in helping them earn some points.

On the other hand, Kaplan is yet to open his account for the season and that is a surprise given his tally of 12 league goals last year.

The Slovakian came desperately close to ending his drought in the last game, but he somehow hit the woodwork from six yards out. Kaplan’s desire to hit the back of the net might make him a very dangerous man.

The Coaches

Young Lions head coach Patrick Hesse has endured three defeats so far and he will be keen to enjoy a change in fortune, sooner rather than later.

What he wants most though is for his side to take less risks when defending. After conceding nine goals in their last three games, it’s not hard to see why.

For Hougang coach K.Balagumaran, he usually prefers his team to keep tight at the back and play on the counter. But against the defensively poor Young Lions, he might just opt for an all-out attack strategy.

Facts and Figures

  • Both teams met during pre-season, with Hougang coming away with a 4-2 win.

  • Hougang have found it difficult to beat the Young Lions since 2014. Six games have been played since then and the Cheetahs have lost thrice and drawn twice.

  • Fareez Farhan joined Hougang last year from the Young Lions, before making the move back to Jalan Besar in 2016

FourFourTwo prediction

The Young Lions look ripe for the taking and unless Hougang self-destructs, they should be going back home with an away win. Garena Young Lion 1-3 Hougang United.

Photos: S.League