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SG Cup 2023: Hougang United vs Brunei DPMM - 1st Leg

Updated: Dec 3, 2023

Submitted by: Tesla | 2nd December 2023

We captured a trophy fish - A Chance to continue our run in the Singapore Cup.

SG Cup 25th of November — We set sail on our boat and charted our course to gun down the Sailors. It falls in line with our quest to stay in the running for the Singapore cup. Although we didn't achieve our target, we did achieve our objective. Hence, this photo of a trophy trout sums up a happy and productive day out at sea. No photo of the Sailors' wreckage, so a trout will do. 😆

Just like a fisherman waiting for the right conditions to align, we had to hope other results go our way. And that it did. With our inspiring draw and a combination of Balestier beating Tanjong Pagar United, we managed to go through to the semi-finals through the skin on our teeth.

An inspired draw — funny... Why did I say that?

In a game where LCS still brought out their expensive toys, we managed to hunker down, deprive their right flank, and exploit their lack of speed down their left flank. With Lestienne pushing way up, the LCS left flank was left with Hami and Anu as its stewards. Twice, their defence was breached by a curving Hougang through-pass from their left flank (Nazrul and Ajay). And there were at least two more clear-cut chances and a penalty shout later in this match compared to LCS only having three chances.

In summary, we were sharper in duels, incisive in attack, and resolute in defence. Our ex-hougang player, Anu was violated too many times that he was subbed off in the 38th minute. Alas, LCS finally broke our resolve in the 83rd minute. The scorer - Shawal Anuar, also a Hougang alumni. The fella scored and was classy enough to not celebrate. We totally appreciate it, Wal!

"...and was classy enough to not celebrate. We totally appreciate it, Wal!"

So yes, It is an inspired draw.

And so it begins — our fight to retain our title! Next up! Hougang United vs Brunei DPMM Singapore Cup 2023! Here are the six things we have to be aware of in order to get the advantage against DPMM! Let's do this!

1. Turmoil in the Brunei FA

The Football Association of Brunei Darussalam (FABD) seems to be in hot soup. The FABD elective congress which was supposed to happen on 18 November was postponed by FIFA and AFC. This is due to the interferrence of the Bruneian government. How the government did so was by sacking the FABD President Haji Matusin and the Gen-sec Mohammad Shahnon Salleh from their post. This came right before the elective congress under the guise of the Registrar of Societies (RoS).

What's more intriguing is that the letter from the sacking didn't offer any explanation as to the dismissals. Thus, FIFA has given the FABD and RoS time to give valid reasoning to the sacking. Failure to do so will result in FABD, and in extension, the whole Brunei football fraternity be suspended and that other members not entertain any sporting contact with FABD and it's confederation. Deadline is by 24th November.

Snippets of the emergency press conference here.

While the AFC committee have given their blessings for Brunei DPMM fc to compete in both SPL 2024/2025 and the Singapore cup, the final approval will have to be from FIFA.

What this means for the Singapore cup is that DPMM might have to pull out of the competition. We couldn't care less if DPMM competes or not, but should the decision to play or not come late, we might not be fully prepared, tactically, for another team to come replace them. Unless, we get a bypass and go straight to the final! 🤞

Preparing to counter DPMM's dangermen will be the priority.

2. The nominee for Young Player of The Year

This year saw the crowning of the Young Player of the Year(YPOTY) in Seia Kunori from H̶o̶u̶g̶a̶n̶g̶ Albirex. Alongside the nominees are Abdul Rasaq(LCS) and Hakeme Yazid(DPMM). Let's talk about the latter.

Caption: Hakeme was one of the nominees for YPOTY in 2023. 📸

Hakeme, just 20 years of age has accumulated 12 goals in the already concluded SPL season. He added one more in the SG cup group stage. And it's not just tap-ins.

Against Hougang earlier this season, he has plundered three goals, one of them a long range freekick that will put Juninho to shame. The kid has incredible pace on the counter, a wicked shot and great dribbling skills. Set in a forward line that carousels around, Hakeme will be tasked with the role of being the furthest forward to pounce on a Voronkov flick-on or on a cross-field switch.

DPMM will be rubbing their hands in glee at the thought of disrupting Hougang's wingplay and turn it into a counter-attack of their own with either Hakeme, or the more experienced Azwan Ali on the other flank. Even the combative midfielder, Farshad will use his free role to exploit the flanks. Yet another player to look out for.

3. Afghan influence, Farshad Noor

Speaking of Farshad Noor, here's the story of a man who is now the captain of the Afghanistan national side. The man has also had a brush with European football as he was raised in Netherlands and represented the Netherlands U-17. Farshad has also played with Roda JC.

Looking past his youth years, we see his repertoire span from defensive midfield to the attacking midfield position. In DPMM though, he's been utilised as an attacking midfielder, often in a free role where he can interchange passes with Voronkov's hold-up play, or join Hanif Farhan in a two-man pivot. But one thing remains constant, wherever he decides to play in, his role will be to pinch the ball and set-up a quick counter.

For this edition of the Singapore cup though, Farshad will be in high spirits as the man has scored in almost every game: one goal vs Geylang and the only winning goal each vs Tampines and Young Lions. Farshad is on fire.

"...Farshad will be in high spirits as the man has scored in almost every game..."

Caption: Farshad has been in scoring form for this competition. 📸 spl youtube

Furthermore, Farshad will be even more motivated now since he was left out of the Afghanistan squad in their most recent drubbing by Kuwait: 4-0. This is the only competition left for him to realistically get a good result.

The good thing is that DPMM always has only four players in attack that being Hakeme, Farshad, Azwan Ali or Voronkov. They're not so big on wingbacks. Hence if our central pivots: Ajay and Irwan deal with the free-scoring Farshad and his movements, we will be one step closer to nipping one of the four threats in the bud.

4. The tactical mind of Adrian Pennock

I've always admired Adrian Pennock. (a) Because he doesn't employ bombarding wingbacks, (b) the team attacks very centrally, and (c) the team only has 4 attacking outlets. In the modern game, usually, the wingbacks will add to the attacks and we'll see 6 men join the attack. However, this tactician sticks to the tried and tested formula and have grinded out decent results, especially against bigger teams.

DPMM plays the ball on the ground most of the time and counter-attacks when opportunity arises, and are not shy of popping a shot from range. Despite being in 7th place, they have been solid in creating chances to attack. Their attacking quartet also will carousel around the pitch interchanging positions and roles. Very dynamic!

His tactics are down to the hard running of the front four where they are all willing runners to add numbers in defence while blitzing to the front when the break is on. And since his fullbacks don't bomb forward, his team's solidity remains intact. DPMM will look to do the same here, being a hard unit to break, but this time they will be prepared to counter Hougang's threat out wide.

Coach Marko will have to figure out a way to beef up the central midfield where DPMM will always look to attack from.

5. DPMM's Angry Streak

Yet another point to exploit is how DPMM has racked up the number of fouls in their ranks. In the recently closed SPL season, DPMM ranked the highest in terms of fouls committed and yellow cards gained. Their red card count is ranked third highest. Surely, it is not a coincidence that this angry streak is brought forward to the Singapore cup right?

Caption: DPMM commits the most fouls in the SG Cup. The story is similar in the SPL too. 📸

While we can't say for sure as they're in the group that has one more extra game, It is telling that they also lead the pack with 54 fouls committed. The next highest, is Albirex, with a much lesser 41 fouls committed. Their yellow card count is also third highest with 6. The antagonizers are, not suprisingly, the top three players in the fouls-committed department (pictured below, only in the SG Cup).

Caption: Mugshot of Azwan Ali for most fouls committed. DPMM with the top three 📸

If we can somehow exploit this tendency to fouls, then we can possibly gain an edge. This is especially because between these three, only Hanif Hamir is a defender. Farshad and Azwan leads their front line.

That being said, Hougang must also be wary that if their frontline is aggressive in the challenges, it means, they'll be aiming to break on turnovers. It has proven successful so far especially against teams who have attacked them guns blazing. Do not be naive and underestimate DPMM, the 2019 champions.

6. The return of Gabriel

In the heavy floodlights of the Jalan Besar Stadium on 25th November, a familiar player emerges on the touchline. Familiar because he has a headband on his head. He strolls onto the pitch to the cheers of the fans—

Gabriel Quak is finally back after a long injury layoff. And what great timing!

Gabriel is a man of many talents: Footballer, Realtor and more recently... entertainer. If you don't believe us, watch this video of him singing on national tv (below).

The return of Gabriel Quak in our lineup is a welcome relief to our paper thin midfield and forward line. What's more awesome is that Gabriel came back and scored on his second subbed outing with a goal against Sabah although it is too late in the game. It's great to see him back after so long.

With Gabriel and Nazrul tearing down the flanks, Hougang will once again be at least somewhat balanced when attacking. Speed, Agility, movement is definitely something we need alot of especially since we tend to go through the wings. It adds more dimension to our attack.

His forward combinations with Sahil's trickery, smart movements and passing will hopefully be enough to see off DPMM in this first game. This first game will decide how our gameplan for the 2nd leg will be. The front four will have to be super sharp and come in clutch when needed!

Gabriel's strengths: Speed, smart movements, Finishing.

Our Summary

We were lucky to have things fall our way in our qualification to the next round. But then again, there's no luck involved in the way we went out to play LCS. This is especially so when contrasted to how Tanjong Pagar failed to carry out their mission. Heck, even Geylang who had hopes of sneaking in a quarterfinal berth if DPMM gets banned, didn't get the third spot.

Semangat. Stay in the fight. We've all heard this before and is the unofficial motto of anyone who has don the Hougang jersey. But what does this mean?

It means hanging on even when you're dying to let go. To stay in the fight. To continue to fight for the next 5 minutes...and then another...and then another. We've managed to secure qualification through the skin on our teeth. Let's fight once again to gain the position in the finals, even if it takes another "skin on our teeth" performance.

With the upcoming DPMM match, just remember: handle their dangermen, exploit their angry streak, be wary of their counter-attacks when we play from the flanks, and most of all, don't naively underestimate them. Then we should be alright.

Win or lose we will never surrender! Side by side always fighting as one! 🎶🎵

See you guys in the semis! 🥳


Hougang vs DPMM Quick Report:

- 4-1-4-1 formation preferred (DPMM) but could switch to 4-2-3-1. Tend to play narrow

- Dangermen: Voronkov, Hakeme Yazid, Farshad Noor, Azwan Ali

- Gabriel has just recovered from injury. Gab just scored recently. Kiki will take awhile as he's in Croatia for minor rehab/surgery.

- Kiki and Shahdan are ruled out through injury.

- Nazrul Nazari is leading the SG Cup assist board for 3 assists in 3 games.(SG Cup only)

- Farshad Noor is 2nd in the charts for Shots On-target with 7, followed closely by Hakeme with 6 in 4 games. (SG Cup only)

- Goalkeeper Naumovski is leading the charts with 28 shots saved from 4 games. (SG Cup only)

- DPMM has the highest number of fouls committed with 3 of their players leading the charts: Azwan Ali, Farshad Noor & Hanif Hamir. The latter also collected 2 yellow cards in 4 games. Bringing in Sahil would help referees make better decisions. (SG Cup only)

- Team-wise, DPMM has the highest number of fouls committed (54). And are third highest in terms of Yellow cards (6) in the SG Cup. In SPL, the story is the same, with DPMM racking up the highest number of fouls committed and yellow cards.

— 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 we approach this game?

  • 0%Be patient. Wait for an opening.

  • 0%All out attack!

  • 0%Park the bus! 🚌

Will you be supporting our local football team at the stadium? (even if you're not a Hougang fan)

  • 0%Yes! I will be there! 🐆

  • 0%No. I got something on.

  • 0%Sorry. I'll be overseas.

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