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Pre-match Warmups: Hougang vs Albirex — the final game of 2023

Updated: Sep 16, 2023

Submitted by: Confaderal | 15th September 2023

Maneki-neko cat beckoning good luck to come to Hougang United.

The picture of the Maneki-neko cat above symbolises the topic of this article. Some of you might ask, "Why is that so?".

Well, for one, there used to be a Maneki-neko karaoke chain in Singapore. It served free assorted peanuts which customers can self-serve and bring with them into their karaoke rooms. It was great for dates or just casual chilling as you get a free-flow of assorted peanuts to accompany your sessions. Sadly, it closed down all it's chains in Singapore in 2021. It's the same sad feeling with this match as our club plays it's final game this season.

Secondly, It is a japanese figurine which is supposedly made to bring in good luck. And oh boy, do our boys need some luck coming into this match. Hopefully we can get a result against a red-hot Albirex. With a thin squad and some cup action coming soon, our boys will need to tiptoe around so many fixtures. But then again, it shouldn't affect our league position.

The final match would be played in Jurong East Stadium. Even more heart-wrenching would be that they will be presented with the SPL trophy right after the match no matter the outcome.

So, one hopes you enjoyed this double entendre on this imagery. Hougang vs Albirex 2023. Let's go!

Rest & Recovery...or is it?

The season's end brings about a new opening of the mini-season. In baseball terms, this would be the november post-season. Hougang still has to compete in the AFC cup four days later at Sabah. So that coupled with the impending Singapore cup fixtures can make one go: Is it really the end-season already?

And so, the matches will be more intense and cutthroat. After a rather disappointing 2023 season, our boys will look forward to making things right and end 2023 on a high. They will have no rest as the games will come thick and fast as compared to Albirex who will have time for rest and tactical training.

Albirex to be localised next season onwards

It has been officially announced that Albirex Niigata Singapore will be a full-fledged Singapore club from 2024 onwards. This means that they will have the bulk of their squad filled with Singaporean players. Four player slots will be allocated to foreign players just like the rest of the teams. What's more interesting is that this move will allow them to be eligible for the AFC cup if everything goes well with the AFC legislation. Wouldn't it be a sight to watch Albirex Japan vs Albirex Japan? One can only imagine!

Despite this, structurally, Albirex will still be a satellite club for the J-league1 club of the same name.

In the bigger picture, this will create a vortex sucking in talented players on a league-wide level, Albirex, along with another local team will look to make big big strides in their transfers next season following the momentous change in their club's history. Who's to say we aren't making moves of our own? 👀

Anyways...What does this mean for Hougang? It could mean that the Albirex players will be extra-motivated to perform against us as this signals the end of an era. Furthermore, this will be their home match, retiring match (for some players like Tadanari Lee), and the match that they will be lifting the SPL trophy. So they'll absolutely aim to make it a happy day for their fans.

Anticipating our lineup for stopping Albirex

Coach Marko should be on the cautious side of things for this match as we are still in the running for two cup competitions. As such, we predict that Hougang will be a narrow counter-attacking side with Maksi and another forward leading the line. The hope would be to push Albirex to the wide areas and counter-attack them through the middle.

We must stress that this are our predictions. Anyways...

With two forwards up front to pin the backline, Hougang will leave a hard choice to their coach Yoshinaga: do I commit my defence forward to support attacks? Or do I keep an eye on these two forwards?

With Shahdan and Zul(hopefully) back to spray passes, Albirex could easily be found out for a quick counter. Having the two forwards will also increase our chances of gaining a freekick in the final third. We all know too well what Shahdan, Zul and Kiki can do with setpieces especially since we have right and left footed specialists taking it.

The Albirex game! gambatte!

This writer hopes that there'll be no more injuries to the players on this last match with Albirex. This is especially because even if we win, the fifth spot is beyond us. Hence, let's hope that our talented U-21 players can get a run-out in this match. This will be a great opportunity to play at the highest level in Singapore. Now, of course, the level of standards must still be there for the U-21. The hougang semangat must be maintained and if they do this, then the fans can never fault them. They are, after all, the future of Hougang united! 1H1H

** Our young COE U-21 boys are producing gems like Iryan, Rauf, Louka etc. 📸credits: hgfc instagram page


Albirex Niigata Quick Report:

-Albirex will want to do well in front of their home support especially because they'll lift the trophy after the match!

-Rumor is that Albirex might field more of their academy players

-Shahdan might get some minutes in this match to get some match fitness.

-Zulfahmi might not be 100% fit for this match after the int'l break

— Tune in to post-match results in our "Upcoming" section of the website after the matchday.

Which would you rather our Coach do?

  • 0%Rest our first XI in preparation for AFC & SG cup

  • 0%Let our first XI play

How do you think Hougang will line up against Albirex?

  • 0%4-4-2

  • 0%4-2-3-1

  • 0%4-3-3

  • 0%5-3-2

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