RHB Singapore Cup (Semi-Final, Second Leg)
Hougang United vs Global Cebu FC (PHI)
(30 September, Saturday, 7.30pm, Hougang Stadium)
Written by: Phoon Jia Hui
After seeing his side hold Global Cebu FC to a 2-2 draw in the first leg of their RHB Singapore Cup 2017 semi-final clash, Hougang United head coach Philippe Aw is convinced they can emerge victorious in the return leg at Hougang Stadium on Saturday night.
It looked as though Global would run out winners after Darryl Roberts scored twice to cancel out Delwinder Singh’s opener three days ago, but Fabian Kwok’s late intervention meant the tie is finely poised going into this encounter.
“It’s disappointing that we didn’t take the lead back to Hougang Stadium but based on the first leg, I feel that we can win the second leg if we stick to our game plan,” said Aw.
“For Hougang who have not achieved a trophy before, the pressure is there and we need to learn to cope with it.”
While he was pleased the Cheetahs managed to score from two set-pieces, Aw insists cutting out mistakes will be key to their chances of reaching their first-ever final in the competition.
“We didn’t stick to the game plan and conceded goals with both goals coming from our attacking situations, we’ve worked on it but we still conceded two,” lamented the former Home United tactician.
“We were jittery at the start and didn’t play our game. We lost possession too easily although we knew Global would tire in the second half and we could take advantage.
“It’s going to be the same on Saturday. We have to be confident of ourselves, don’t open up too much and what we need is just one or two attacks to hopefully get a goal or two.
“Let’s not forget Global are a good team with quality players. They played in the AFC Cup. We want to attack them but we must also worry about the transition.”
With Home falling 3-1 to Albirex Niigata (S) in the other semi-final, this means Hougang could potentially be the only local team to be in this year’s final should they beat The People’s Club.
It is a fact not lost on Aw and he hopes his players will rise to the occasion.
“For some of these boys, this two games are really big for them,” he noted. “An example would be (defender) Lionel (Tan) who will be enlisting into the army next week.
“When we were first drawn against Ceres-Negros FC (in the Preliminary Round), nobody gave us a chance. But look where we are now, in the semis after overcoming three foreign teams.
“It’s good on us and we are enjoying this journey so far. It’s also a good test for myself, coaching staff and my players,
“90 mins, 120 mins or even penalties, this gives us great motivation to prepare well and be ready for Global at Hougang Stadium.”
For Global meanwhile, head coach Akbar Nawas could not hide his disappointment after coming away with only a draw.
“No, I’m not happy with the result,” the 41-year-old admitted.
“We had the chances to bring a better lead into the second leg, but we didn’t. We only had 13 players available, but I didn’t want to make excuses. If I felt sore, the feeling will seep into the players.”
Paolo Bugas came off injury in their last match, leaving Akbar with possibly just 12 players available for the second leg.
But the former Tampines Rovers head coach remains unfazed.
“I take this very seriously, I want to be the first Singaporean coach to lead a Philippines team into the final of the Singapore Cup, so there is history to be made,” Akbar said.
“We really have to make our chances count, if we are to stand a chance of progressing into the final.”