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Prematch Warmups: Hougang United vs BG Tampines Rovers FC

Updated: Jun 30

Submitted by KingKikilover10 I 28/6/2024

This is not some famous quote or anything, it's just something I whipped up. But truth be told, I hope this transcends into something I see with this Hougang side...

Take it one step at a time, find your rythm and play till you drop dead

BG Tampines Rovers have been one of the better teams so far this season, up there with the likes of Geylang International and Lion City Sailors, they have once again shown their dominance against teams that has crossed paths with them. Steady and almost systematically dangerous, how would our Cheetahs potentially fare against this Tampines side.

Call the ambulance, but not for us

Tampines comes into this game as strong favourites, and it's no surprise with how well they have started off this season, still unbeaten. But let's find out why I want to point out how crucial it is to get a stronghold on the midfield. Looking at this season, its similar to how it was last time around. Shah Shahiran and Kyoga as the double pivot whilst Seia Kunori sits in front of them. Now, it must be mentioned that Seia will usually push high upwards, often acting as another forward beside Boris, ala a second striker. This causes a myriad of issues for the defending team, but if you could potentially stop ammunition from midfield, could you perhaps get something out of this game? Now, for the past few seasons, it has become more and more apparent that Tampines has been a side where it's midfield has lacked a defensive presence, someone to sit in front of the defence and scan and cover up for their midfield partners. With the addition of Jared Gallagher this season, it was to be expected that he would plug in those gaps but, in typical Gavin fashion, the defensive midfielder has often been deployed as a full back, often inverting into midfield when Tampines is in posession, to provide an extra body in midfield. Then, isn't that Gavin solving that plaguing issue? Well, not completely. Since he is not deployed as a specialised defensive midfielder, it just means that he has to juggle defending form the flanks as well as the area he is in charge of centrally. Perhaps something that can be exploited? Having seen such issues with the Stags, let's hope that Marko has something up his sleeve.

One Trick Pony?

Let's get straight to the point, Stjepan is a hell of a player and one that can be absoultely destructive at times. But given his over-reliance on his left foot, his one footedness is for sure, a weakness in his game. Stjepan has impressed us with his brute strenght and his ability to storm down the left flank but his lack of finesse and control with his right foot means, as long as the ball is not in reach of his left foot he will struggle to control possession.

Fans who were at the stadium at this very game would have noticed how Stjepan struggled to get past Amer Hakeem. Like most right-sided defenders, Amer was right footed and was almost always spot on with preventing Stjepan from getting comfortable on the ball. In most cases, a right footed right sided defender against a left footed, left winger often spells issues for the latter. Some might say that with the first 2 games where Stjepan were one of our side's better players, this game against Balestier let me to have some worries on whether teams and defenders have already figured out how he likes to operate. Stjepan likes to put in crosses as well and that has often proved dividends and when on the right, his outside of the foot passes can be quite deadly as well (throwback to that pass for Ajay). Whoever Tampines deploys on the right to defend Stjepan will be wary of how he plays, and I am certain about that.

2 Blossoming Players

Give a round of applause to Ajay and Racic for an amazing performance. Like really, do it now. But in all seriousness, the 2 players have done absolutely amazing in that last game against Balestier, where it almost seemed that all hope was lost and it was another game where the walk back to the dugouts was one without any joy. But thanks to the hard-running Ajay and oh-so clutch Racic we were offered some relief. Starting with Ajay, did we not mention how important he was since last season? Lest we forget, I included a screenshot of how I predicted Hougang to start this season, alongside another screenshot from our Haiphong preview for the final game of the season.

However, Ajay whom I also helmed as the Ryan Gravenberch of Singapore was a mistake on my part. Because Gravenberch doesn't defend like Ajay. Ajay goes beyond the mile to rush back and defend, on top of his duties to carry the ball and link up with players in front of him. With some in The Final Whistle Telegram Chat calling him "3 Lungs Ajay", similar plaudits were received by the game commentators alike. In his box to box role, Ajay tasked with brining posession higher up the field saw him carry out his duties with minimal fuss. With 4 attempted dribbles, of which 3 were succesful, those numbers were not bad for a young midfielder. Meanwhile, Racic was another standout player, against Geylang we witnessed his debut where we saw him score a header thanks to Stjepan's cross. In this Balestier game where he played a full 90 minutes, his 2 footedness and strength saw him put up an impressive performance. With Sofascore only giving him a 0.54XG (expected goals), he went above and beyond to beat it by scoring 2. With only 6 shots in his 2 appearnces, this takes his goal conversion rate to a whopping 50%. As a team where we are not always labelled as favourites, and given that we like to play direct football, chances come by occasionally, and as such we need to be ruthless and opportunistic. Thus, forwards like Racic would be key to our attacks just like our old friend Maksimovic.


Hopefully this preview hasn't been too long but, that brings us to my conclusion of this game. Where I feel that if Marko were to field his best possible 11 bar the current players that are injured, it will be interesting to see how will we fare against a side tipped to be title challengers. I didn't talk about this earlier but, I am skeptical about how the right side of our defence will hold up against the likes of Faris Ramli. Who has had a decent start to the season where he already has 2G/1A in 3GP. Right centre back Ensar and whoever plays at right back, be it Adam Reefdy or Nazhiim should be wary of him and whoever plays at left back for the Stags. To round things off, I'm predicting that we will get a possible point of the Stags, and I am also sure we will be in for a treat.



Tampiines vs Hougang Quick Report:

- 4-2-3-1 formation preferred (Tampines)

- Dangermen: Faris Ramli, Taufik Suparno, Seia Kunori

- Hougang should be wary of the right flank, and prevent left sided forwards from Tampines to establish territory

-Need to play to our strenghts and gameplan, hit on transitions and be clinical.

-Tampines likes to often play with 2 strikers, Kunori will not stick to his position on paper and often form a partnership with Boris

-Tampines crosses from open play very dangerous, players are obviously trained to score from such situations, do not mark players half-heartedly


Can The Cheetahs Get Anything Out Of This Game?

  • Yes, I'm calling it

  • Not so confident this time around

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