S.League: Home United hoping to find form against Salim's Hougang
Home United will be hoping to garner their first three points of the 2015 Great Eastern Yeo's S.League campaign when they take on Hougang United at the Jalan Besar Stadium on Friday.
The Protectors, one of the competition's traditional heavyweights, opened their campaign on Tuesday with a 1-1 draw against Geylang International.
While it was not the most ideal of starts, there were plenty of positives to take away from that game, including Danish import Ken Ilso's fine individual effort while the backline looked solid and in tune with each other.
As such, it is likely that Home coach Philippe Aw will resist the temptation to tinker too much with his starting lineup on Friday, and he is optimistic everything will click into place sooner rather than later.
"It's a long season and we're only just getting started," he said."It's about sharpness now and - with more games - we can get into the rhythm and our strikers and midfielders will hopefully be able to finish off the chances, which we were able to create [against Geylang]...we showed good signs and we can only get stronger."
However, Aw will be aware that the Protectors cannot afford to get complacent against Hougang, even though their upcoming opponents were far from their best in Monday's 1-1 draw against Courts Young Lions.
Last season, both sides met on three occasions, including once in the quarterfinals of the Singapore League Cup, and Home twice threw away a lead to end up on the losing end.
Interestingly enough, from the seven players that found the back of the net in the games between the two teams in 2014, only one remains and will feature on Friday -- Hougang's Nurhilmi Jasni.
Having spent most of his career on the right side of midfield, the 28-year-old, who recently replaced Fadhil Salim as the Cheetahs' new captain, was deployed in a central role by coach Salim Moin against the Young Lions and gave a good account of himself alongside Shunsuke Nakatake.
Although both him and Nakatake will be tasked to provide the ammunition for strikers Francisco "Chupe" Ela and Manato Takahashi, they will also have to do a job defensively in order to contain the Protectors midfield triumvirate of Kamel Ramdani, Azhar Sairudin and Song Ui-young.
Hougang United Probable Lineup: Ridhuan Barudin (GK), Faizal Amir, Kunihiro Yamashita, Yuki Uchiyama, Lau Meng Meng, Fairoz Hasan, Nurhilmi Jasni (C), Shunsuke Nakatake, Fareez Farhan, Francisco Ela, Manato Takahashi.
Home United Probable Lineup: Shahril Jantan (GK), Ang Zhiwei, Noh Rahman (C), Abdil Qaiyyim, Sirina Camara, Azhar Sairudin, Song Ui-young, Stanely Ng, Kamel Ramdani, Yasir Hanapi, Ken Ilso.