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Prematch Warmups: Hougang Utd vs Tanjong Pagar Utd- SPL 24/25

Updated: May 26

Submitted by: Tesla | 24th May 2024

Jaguars beckoning me to the ice cream shop
Jaguars beckoning me to the ice cream shop

Some weekends ago I was out walking with my wife and we agreed that the heat was just relentless. It's been one of those days you know(or rather one of those months). So for the sake of camaraderie, everyone please don't forget to hydrate yourselves more.


Now, as we walk the concrete jungle of Singapore under the sweltering heat, we chanced upon an ice cream stand. i did what had to be done: I conveyed the flavours we wanted to the shop assistant after some very, very long deliberation. There was some tussling with the missus on which flavour she likes, my opinion on which flavour i prefer and some recommendations from the shop assistant. After awhile, I found myself at the payment counter. It was then that I was greeted by a Neko cat figurine beckoning to me~

Come to me~

Come toooo meeeeee~


I broke out of my mid-day heat-stricken low-sugar stupor. Life has given me one of it's great analogies again.

The analogy is — Whenever we meet up with the jaguars, it's akin to visiting an ice cream or gelato shop: you just don't know what you're going to get! Will we see a well-oiled Tanjong Pagar baying for blood? Or will we see a Tanjong Pagar side that lacks bite?

In our previous encounters there were just too many times where Tanjong Pagar got the result against us even when we're playing so well and leading the proceedings. So without further ado, I'm going to go into the details of how we can overcome the banana skin that is Tanjong Pagar United. Hougang Utd vs Tanjong Pagar Utd - Part 1. "Leszgo!"

1.A young squad full of youths

The 2023 season ended with the Tanjong Pagar United U-21 squad winning the COE U-21 league title. Harping on the success of the youth team, Hasrin Jailani(TPU's head coach) and the club as a whole has gratefully promoted the U-21 squad to represent the senior squad for this season. The youngsters will primarily come of the bench it seems.

It is, in summary, going to be a season of renewal. But their Head Coach has also cautioned for the Tanjong Pagar fans to be patient with the process.

This new season will see their squad field younger stalwarts like Akram Azman as captain alongside Fashah, Shahrin Saberin and Faizal Roslan. Also notable is the return of Anaqi Ismit and the new acquisition of Syahadat Masnawi & Riki Kimura.

Pathy Malumandsoko, Zenivio Mota, Timur Azizovich, Stefan Paunovic, Salif Cisse and Tomoki Wada represent the foreign contingent in the squad. All new faces.

What this means for us is that this is a team in transition as they consists of new starry-eyed U-21s and unproven foreign signings. It also doesn't help that they can't keep much of their core team. Perennial tormentors of Hougang United like Khairul Amri and Blake Ricciuto has fortunately left the squad.

We will battle them in the 2nd game of their season. All of this points in our favour and if we fail to capitalise it will be three points lost. We MUST be ready to pounce on them from the first minute to avoid another disappointing repeat of the match against Albirex where we have a whole lot of posession and chances, but no results. All because of a slip-up in the early stages of the game.

2.The absence of the usual suspects & coaches

The usual suspects are no longer in Tanjong pagar!
The usual suspects are no longer in Tanjong pagar!

So as mentioned above, Tanjong Pagar has seen the departure of their clutch-scorer Khairul Amri and their midfield generals in Blake Ricciuto, Mirko Sugic and the bedrock Shakir Hamzah. The first two have been chief tormentors of Hougang in seasons past, and now with them gone, we will have a much clearer conscience moving upfield to find a goal. We MUST be able to produce goals.

On a relevant note, we will see the return of Shodai Nishikawa to this Tanjong Pagar side. The wingback will once again provide encouraging runs and penetration through the flanks.

We are not so much underestimating Tanjong Pagar, but rather, we have been below our expectations in the past two games that a statement needs to be said in this upcoming match here. This applies to any opponent we face in the SPL from now onwards!

Currently, upfront Tanjong Pagar looks toothless upfront and seem to be trying to find their feet. We need to be aware that they'll be fired up to go up against Hougang united and will surely have drilled themselves to beat us. Like us, they'll be licking their lips in this fixture and will aim to collect all three points. So we need to be at our best and play as smart as we can to win this encounter. Don't let them score the first goal. Don't sleep on them.

3.The counter-attacking threat (Come to me!)

Their recent game against Balestier I feel doesn't reflect what they can do because we feel that after Faizal Roslan was sent off, their moods dipped and they weren't at their full force. The brightside is that Faizal will be suspended from this next game thus giving us a better chance to attack with one less reliable defender.

This will also mean that Hougang are presented with ample favourable conditions coming our way again (much like how the Albirex game panned out).

We suspect that Tanjong Pagar will look to play defensive in a low-block to spring a counter attack on us. So Bruno and Faris will need to be on their tippy toes. Speaking of this, besides Bruno not closing down Jumbo in the goal against Albirex, he and Faris hasn't put a foot wrong afterwards. We expect it to be the same this time around. Be solid and prevent their counter attacks.

Tanjong Pagar will be ready to unleash Zenivio Mota AND the returning Shodai Nishikawa in counter attacks if we are not careful. The former, young prospect has been bright amid a dull TPU side against Balestier Khalsa. The latter, Shodai Nishikawa was a reliable attacking wingback when he was with Tanjong Pagar in previous seasons.

Final Say

We loved the tenacity of our players. But if we excuse ourselves even after seeing this stats, then we'd have admitted to other clubs that this is the best that we can manage — This is not who we are!
We loved the tenacity of our players. But if we excuse ourselves even after seeing this stats, then we'd have admitted to other clubs that this is the best that we can manage — This is not who we are!

—Saying this from a place of love:

First off, we were heartened by the valiant displays of our boys. There is so much heart, hard running and incessant pressure from the boys. Alas, It was not meant to be. We controlled what we can control. Right?

But, this also doesn't absolve us from the sins of this loss. Zero goals from 18 attempts signal a flaw in the system somewhere. They say, the top winning teams will always look to try control the things they can't control — we are a top side. Hence, we need to look at this as not a case of "we tried our best but things didn't go our way", but as "what can we do to ensure that this doesn't happen again. There must be something we're not doing perfectly".

Secondly, our previous match against Albirex represented a match where we once again was (a)not quick to get into the game in the opening stages, (b)was again not good enough in handling setpieces, and again (c)let Shuhei Hoshino torment us.

It was also a rare game where the refereeing decisions went our way. Everything was tipped in our favour to win it. Any reasoning we give will only be deemed as an excuse. There cannot be any excuses — because if we give excuses in a game where everything is in our favour then we've pretty much shown that this is the best that we can come up with. And I refuse to believe this to be the case for our hougang team who have been involved in intercontinental competitions.

We need to move the ball faster in the third phase of play(which also requires support to arrive fast and on-time). Also, we need to have capable shooters from outside the box. Because it allows variety in our attacks to keep opponents guessing — this prevents opponents from "bunching-up" in their own penalty box thinking that we can't hurt them. Our opponents will have to come out to stop the shots from range thereby creating space in the penalty box. The proof is in the pudding where Malaysian teams have scored from outside the box against SPL teams during the off-season.

Luckily, this next match represents another chance to prove ourselves and kickstart our league...our quest for 15 points per round starts now.

Lastly, the Jurong East stadium had some spanking new re-turfing for the upcoming season. I got to admit. It looks nice. This new field also means we've got no excuses to play wrong passes and whatnot. Furthermore, we've got no excuses to fall back on if we don't win especially since this is a (a)revamped squad filled with (b)the U-21s.

The Tanjong Pagar squad will need time to gel and more importantly, get used to the league, despite getting a few nice foreign signings in their rank. So we need to approach this encounter all-guns blazing.

There's only the league this season with no other continental distractions. C'mon Hougang boys! show your semangat! #1H1H💪


Tanjong Pagar vs Hougang Quick Report:

- Tanjong Pagar's preferred formation. 3-5-2.

- This will be a revamped TPU squad with most of the U-21 winning squad getting a promotion and receiving their league debuts.

- Tanjong Pagar will have to rely on their key mainstay players like Akram Azman, Faizal Roslan, Shahrin Saberin and Fashah Iskandar to guide the youths.

-Faizal Roslan is suspended through a red card earned in the previous match.

-Syahadat Masnawi will attempt to lob the ball from long-range whenever a keeper with the tendency to sweep is off-the-line.

-Foreign signings: Tomoki Wada, Timur Talipov, Pathy Malumandsoko, Salif Cisse, Zenivio Mota, Stefan Paunovic and the returning Shodai Nishikawa. Zenivio looks bright. We also know what Nishikawa brings to the TPU side as seen in seasons past.

- Unlike previous season, the main thorns in the sides of Hougang have moved on — Khairul Amri and Blake Ricciuto.

- Be wary of their counter attacks and set pieces. Especially knowing how lacklustre we are in the opening minutes.

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

— If you like our content, whether you're a Hougang fan or a local football fan, do consider donating a small sum here(scroll to the bottom). Your contributions will help ease us with our yearly website & wix fees to keep the site running. The site attracts more fans and (hopefully) investors to see the value of our very own local club, Hougang. Thank you, my friends!

Will the Jurong East Stadium field hinder us?

  • 0%Yes!

  • 0%No.

Which TPU player should we be wary of?

  • 0%Akmal Azman

  • 0%Syahadat Masnawi

  • 0%Timur Talipov

  • 0%Tomoki Wada

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