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Job not quite done for Hougang United vs DPMM - SG Cup 2023 2nd Leg

Submitted by: Confaderal | 5th December 2023

A football physio treats a footballer on the treatment table

They say a picture paints a thousand words. Well, the picture above certainly conjures a thousand words in the mouths of Hougang fans: a thousand expletives that is. In an already thin squad full of injuries, we welcomed Gabriel back in the second half after only recently returning from injury.

The man he replaced was Sahil Suhaimi: another brilliant but injury prone player. In an attempt to juggle fatigue and injury, Coach Marko called upon Gabriel.

Alas, on the 73rd minute, Gabriel had to limp off the pitch once again. Only time will tell if he will be ready for the next match, but we're not holding our breath. The Hougang winger had been in and out of the treatment table multiple times this season.

Let's wish all our boys a smooth recovery and hopefully we can sustain a good push to the finish line. And also hope that our star talisman Djorje Maksimovic remains fit.

Because on sunday the 3rd of December, Djorje popped up with the winning goal when he was given the one chance he had on goal. On the 56th minute, after a DPMM attack was ruled offside, Kazuma quickly placed the ball down and fizzed a pass to Irwan Shah. That move quickly removed five of DPMM's players in Hougang's half out of the picture. Then, in double quick time, the reliable Irwan Shah fired a brilliant ball over-the-top to the on-rushing Djorje, removing another four of DPMM's players.

Djorje deftly faked a turn to take the ball inside Najib Tarif and instead shot from the outside.

Goal. One-nil to the cheetahs. Finally.

We were sharper, dominant and more incisive. Should Sahil, Hazzuwan, Irwan, Jordan and Nazrul capitalise on their chances, we would have been in a comfortable position going into the second leg. That being said, the boys really outdid themselves in another excellent defensive display, especially since they've battled in as many games in a short period of time. Kudos to our lads. Not once did it feel like we were being threatened in this match!

So without further ado! Here's five things we should take note of in the second leg of the Hougang United vs DPMM match 2023!

1. DPMM's injury list

Sometimes an element of luck is required for a team to win in a competition. Last year, we had that moment of luck. At Jurong East stadium, with the game poised at 3-2 with Albirex leading, we seem to be staring in the face of defeat in the 60th minute. Why?

(a) Because our main goalkeeper Zainol was injured during the game and (b)Because the referee gave Albirex a penalty after Muhaimin was judged to have bundled Sugita over in the penalty box.

But up stepped Aizil Yazid who dove to his far right to deny the Albirex penalty. We went on to hold Albirex to a 3-3 draw away at JES on that day. Should the penalty go in, the score would've been 4-2 to Albirex and thus, the complexion of the game would be different. That would've changed our gameplan for the return leg.

This year though, we feel that the "lucky moment" was when a more well-rested DPMM was handed a round of injuries to two of their key players: Azwan Ali and Andrey Voronkov. Freak accidents.

Caption: DPMM certainly did miss Voronkov leading the line in the 1st leg 📸 Andrey Voronkov youtube

With two out of the four attacking quartet missing, Hougang ran riot around DPMM knowing full well that DPMM has lesser threats moving forward. We emerged 1-0 victors in this first encounter.


Despite this being said, one can't help but to think that maybe, just maybe Adrian Pennock purposely omitted both of these guys from his lineup to lull Hougang into a false sense of security. To figure our tactics out before he unleashes both of these guys in the second leg for a fatigued Hougang... and importantly... so that none of these two get a second yellow if DPMM goes into the final.

Adrian Pennock is not beyond playing mind games.

2. There is no safety net for finishing 2nd

Once again, our boys will have it all to do as they seek the coveted continental slot. The direct entry slot is already taken by the Lion City Sailors. This leaves us with the hopes of the playoff spot...but only if we win. The runner-up of the Singapore cup won't be in the indirect slot if let's say the grand finals involve us and the sailors. That will be defaulted to the next highest position in the league: Tampines Rovers.

This is by the same precedent whereby in Malaysia, the 2nd slot is not given to the Malaysia FA cup winner as JDT also won the FA cup and league. That slot is given to Selangor for finishing 2nd in the league.

Caption: ACL2 slots for Singapore is one direct and another indirect entry. 📸

But that being said, we can only look forward to what's in front of us. And we have to think that it's a fresh new match against DPMM as we only have a slender lead.

Most importantly, we need to be clinical this time. DPMM will surely have sorted out their mistakes learnt from the first leg.

3. Return of Hanif Hamir in defence

The Bruneian international defender was unlucky enough to be suspended for the first leg when he collected his second yellow card in the 86th minute against the Young Lions. He has played 21 games this season for DPMM and has been their bedrock.

As such, he will be expected to start in defence again in this second leg. Hanif is fast and experienced and will be well rested.

Caption: Hanif Hamir will return for DPMM after serving suspension. 📸

It is important to note that DPMM only conceded two goals in their entire cup run during the group stage. With their coach's insistence on not playing bombarding wingbacks, their structure will pretty much be solid defensively.

In terms of bad points, Hanif is fourth in the SG cup standings for most fouls committed. Surely, our players can exploit that. Will be looking forward to Farshad Noor also earning fouls and cards hopefully as he leads the charts for most fouls. Farshad has already had one yellow card in the first leg.

4. DPMM's tactics in the first leg

Pennock's team entered the game with a set-up that they're familiar with. In essence, the 4-1-4-1. We saw throughout the game how his team tried to shift and adapt to the directness of Hougang's attack to the point where they had to shift to a back three.

Once bitten, twice shy. Pennock will be wary this time of the speed of route-one football hougang can play...even without the services of Zulfahmi and Shahdan. Countless times we saw our crosses from deep breach the DPMM defence who were slow for the recovery runs. It doesn't help also that Naumovski is always reluctant to play the sweeping role.

The lack of speed was also exploited by through passes from strong hold-up play.

Pennock switched to a more route-one football approach later on as DPMM sought to get a result. Faced with a slower backline and an isolated frontline, Pennock needed to pull his defence and attack closer to each other to play the type of football he wanted to play. At the same time he needed to contain Hougang who stretched the width and length of the field to make sure DPMM don't.

DPMM will try to come back with a plan to get the upper hand against Hougang in the 2nd leg. Maybe they'll employ more route-one football this time or try to cut-in for a long range shot after all, they have better shots from long range as compared to us. Or Pennock's men could simply want to get their more mobile fullbacks to scuttle between the area where we could send in those dangerous crosses from deep and our natural crossing positions.

Let's hope our boys are prepared for it. One. Last. Hurdle.

5. Are DPMM dangerous from set pieces anymore?

DPMM will need to attack. This is a given. And if they don't have their dangermen, they might resort to influencing the referee to give set pieces.

We were great in the first leg in that we've mostly kept their set pieces in less threatening positions. It also helps that there is a lack of height in the team what with Voronkov being injured.

In the second leg, Hakeme Yazid will once again try to score from every set piece that is centrally positioned. We would need to be disciplined, focused and organised to not commit fouls in dangerous positions and to be ultra defensive if we do concede a set piece. The Lion City Sailors learned this the hard way as they went down in Bangkok through a solitary goal scored from a free kick where part of the wall didn't jump.

Of course, it's much easier to say this in hindsight, but looking back, with qualification at stake and a warm body on the floor to provide cover for the wall when they jumped, they've got nothing to lose so why not just jump.

Fortunately, one team's mishap is another team's lesson - and we would have no excuses to not be prepared.

Final Words

Once again our boys will have to smartly maneuver this tricky fixture that looks straight forward. Let's hope we can come up with another solid dominating and defensive outing against DPMM. If we keep up where we left off in the first leg, we would be in a great position to make it in the finals.

Another one more dominating display, clinical finishing, and with a good result like that pictured above will guarantee us a spot in the grand final. We need to focus and don't underestimate the attack of DPMM. The ball is in our court. And continental football beckons us: Can we answer the call?

Adrian Pennock has admitted in the post-match interview that his team were rusty due to not playing football for a month. The englishman will want to set things right and whip his boys up into shape for this 2nd leg.

They will need to attack. This time we just need to be patient and incisive when the moment arrives to hurt them. Let's do this boys! Hougang Sampai Mati! #1H1H


Hougang vs DPMM Quick Report:

- 4-1-4-1 formation preferred (DPMM) but have shown in the first leg that they can do 3-2-3-2. Tend to play narrow

- Dangermen: Hakeme Yazid, Farshad Noor

- Gabriel might be out with another injury despite just coming back.

- Kiki and Shahdan are ruled out through injury. Gabriel will likely not be risked. Birthday boy and newly wed Amir Zailani will be back with the team!

- DPMM will be without Azwan Ali and Voronkov who have sustained injury but have Hanif Hamir returning after serving suspension.

- Farshad Noor is 3rd in the charts for Shots On-target with 8. (SG Cup only)

- Goalkeeper Naumovski is leading the charts with 33 shots saved from 5 games. Previously, he was on 28. (SG Cup only)

- DPMM has the highest number of fouls committed with 2 of their players leading the charts: Azwan Ali & Farshad Noor. With 11 and 14 respectively. (SG Cup only)

- Team-wise, DPMM has the highest number of fouls committed (66) which is 12 more than their previous number. In SPL, the story is the same, with DPMM racking up the highest number of fouls committed and yellow cards.

- Important to note that Hougang has the 2nd highest yellow card count behind Tampines after the 1st leg.

— Tune in to the "Upcoming" section of our homepage after the matchday to see the latest scores. Or simply follow our 'hougang_hools' instagram page or 'Hougang United FC Supporters Club' on facebook to see video snippets or updates on latest scores. All images used are stocks or from the hougang united instagram page unless otherwise stated.

How should Hougang set-up against DPMM in the 2nd leg?

  • 0%Sit back and counter attack ⚽️

  • 0%Go out guns blazing!

  • 0%Park the bus 🚍

Do you think the "injured" duo will be included in the lineup on the 6th?

  • 0%Yes! 🎯

  • 0%No! 🙅‍♂️

Which DPMM player is likely to hurt us?

  • 0%Hakeme Yazid

  • 0%Farshad Noor

  • 0%Hanif Farhan

  • 0%Angel Martinez. Set piece.

You can vote for more than one answer.

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