Hougang United not bothered by comments on style: Coach Clement Teo
Hougang United coach Clement Teo's overriding concern ahead of their Singapore Premier League (SPL) clash with Lions City Sailors tonight is getting the points, not swatting away critics who have found fault with his defensive approach.
The Cheetahs face their in-form opponents at Hougang Stadium on the back of two wins from five games since the Oct 17 resumption of the SPL, scoring and conceding seven goals.
|HOUGANG UNITED||LIONS CITY SAILORS|
In that run, Hougang adopted a soak-and-strike approach in three of their games with mixed results. An impressive 2-1 win over Tampines Rovers was followed by a creditable 1-1 draw with the Sailors, before Hougang succumbed 4-0 to Albirex Niigata.
However, Teo is unlikely to change his tactics tonight in a bid to keep the Sailors at bay.
Aurelio Vidmar's men have blitzed 13 goals in their last two games - a 6-1 win over Tanjong Pagar United and a 7-1 mauling of Balestier Khalsa - and, in the six games since the restart, they have suffered just one defeat - a 3-2 loss to Albirex.
"They are doing very well. They pumped six, seven goals against opponents, so we expect a challenging task ahead of us," said Teo, whose fourth-placed side are aiming to finish as the second- or third-best local senior side in order to qualify for an AFC Cup spot.
"Against Sailors, everyone will do it (adopt a more defensive-minded tactic)... it will be suicide if we played a very open game with them, as they have many talented players who can kill teams off.
"Whatever the comments on how we play, like 'there was only one team playing', we are not bothered. We want the points as every point counts."
However, stopping a team who have plundered 25 goals in six games since the restart will take some doing, especially with the Sailors ready to meet the challenge head on.
"I expect Hougang to sit very deep and we have to be very vigilant of their counter-attacks," said Vidmar, whose third-placed side are three points adrift of SPL leaders Albirex.
"They will make it very difficult for us to penetrate, but we will have to use our other sources to break them down."
At his disposal are a plethora of options including the league's leading marksman Stipe Plazibat, who will be returning to his former ground for the first time since his move in September.
Plazibat has 14 SPL goals, and has also provided a league-leading five assists, along with Gabriel Quak, while Adam Swandi has come off the bench and scored four goals in six appearances this season.
Vidmar also sent a warning to title rivals, saying the statistics are indicative of his team gaining a better understanding of what is expected of them.
"We are an extremely fit side, the players have adapted well to the playing style and standards, and we now have momentum," the Australian said.
"Winning brings confidence. We have that in abundance and we are playing some great football, let's see where that brings us."