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Pre-Match Warm Ups: Hougang United vs Lion City Sailors

Updated: Aug 16, 2023

By: KingKikilover10 | 13 August 2023

Tactical Talkboard:

Hougang United will set out to play the Sailors at the Bishan Stadium and it would be interesting to see what we can expect from Marko today. Firstly, let’s get 'who starts for us' out of the way;

In my head I would expect an unchanged lineup from the previous game we played. The real question is Abdil’s fitness and whether he would be integrated back into the matchday squad or not but at this point seems unlikely. We can also speculate on whether the youngster, Louka Tan is starting as he was given his debut against the Sailors in the second half of the last encounter as well as him starting the last game against DPMM. One could see him being replaced in the starting lineup with Gabriel Quak who provided an assist for the sole goal in the previous game. Shahdan is still in question as his fitness and approximate date of return to the squad is unknown.

Hougang’s midfield maestro Kristijan Krajček |Image rights: Hougang United Instagram page (📸Haiqal Tahir⁣)

The battle is won in midfield:

"We can talk all day long about the strengths and weaknesses of each club as well as the looming threat of Maxime Lestienne but we cannot emphasise enough how much our midfield has shaped our games."

Marko has taken our midfield and given it a new brand of football, the pairing of Zulfahmi and Irwan Shah in midfield has changed games for us, take either one of them out of the puzzle and we are not as dominant as we would like. Irwan Shah provides a good reading of the game and has the mobility as well as much needed energy in midfield to win those second balls while Zulfahmi has an unbelievable technique in himself to dispatch balls for our forwards.

On the other hand, our guests, during the previous game against Tampines Rovers, we saw them lining up with Anu, Diego and Hariss. I am no tactical expert but energy is going to be very important in midfield, and what can be done is to overwhelm the combination of Anu and Hariss with our tenacity in the middle and the prospect of having a sort of in-form and confident Kiki definitely makes things seem a lot more positive.

Midfield lynchpin Zulfahmi Arifin contemplating over a freekick. | Image rights: Hougang United Instagram page (📸Haiqal Tahir⁣)

Goals never go over my head:

Let's get the big problem out of the way first, Lestienne. Lestienne is probably one of SPL’s greats and his abilities are astounding. Coming off of their latest encounter with Tampines, he is really the biggest threat in the team by a mile, scoring a hattrick in the first half is speechless. However that doesn't mean he cannot be stopped, his impressive attacking contributions can be nullified or at least dampened.

"Let's get the big problem out of the way first, Lestienne."

Often deployed on the left side, Nazrul who I think would make the start at right back would have to be on his toes. Not giving Lestienne space to take a shot or put in a cross is key, what is often seen in the league is the scene of fullbacks giving Lestienne the space to 2-foot his marker and take a shot or allowing him time and space to pick out someone in the box with his crosses.

What needs to be done is to close up the space he has and try to prevent balls from being played to him. However, it isn't easy to do, especially if playing a compact off-the ball defence is implemented and we haven't talked about the other spear from LCS yet: Zivkovic.

Zivkovic is comfortable on the wings as well as centrally and his physicality and finishing makes him a difficult player to contain for the backline.

On the other hand, for Hougang, Maksimovic been in great form and his confidence seems to be doing wonders for him, the last time he played against LCS he did not manage to bag any goals but we would be hoping for him to continue with his impressive goal contributions.

To sum it up:

To end this all together, I think what needs to be done by our cheetahs would be to, importantly, outscore this LCS side and be efficient when they make mistakes. It can be said that LCS scores goals whoever they play with with Lestienne, but looking at their loss against DPMM, nothing is impossible and I can see us walking away with at least a point here.

In summary, strangle the midfield and outscore LCS. Bring bags of energy and semangat and we would be up for an entertaining match! COYC!

"...strangle the midfield and outscore LCS. Bring bags of energy and semangat..."

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