With less than three weeks to go before the S.League season starts again, Home United appears to be in great shape.
They dispatched Cambodian side Phnom Penh Crown 3-0 at the Jalan Besar Stadium to qualify for the regional AFC Cup competition on Tuesday (7 February).
In attack, everything seemed to click with Adam Swandi and Faris Ramli tormenting defenders with their silky skills and movement off the ball.
The duo combined to score Home’s 13th minute opener, after Faris produced a terrific through ball for Adam to chip the goalkeeper.
Adam turned creator for the second goal in the 71st minute, as he picked out striker Stipe Plazibat with a superb cut-back for a simple tap-in. Substitute Amiruldin Asyraf wrapped up the game with the third 10 minutes later, scoring it after Shamil Sharif did superbly to pick him out at the back post.
At the back, they hardly afforded their opponents a sniff. Centre-backs Irfan Fandi and Sirina Camara ensured almost nothing went past them and in the event that it happened, Singapore international Hassan Sunny was there to bail them out.
The only blight of the game was seeing Christopher Van Huizen forced off the game early with what appeared to be a bad ankle twist after he got clipped from behind.
Room for improvement
Head coach Aidil Shahrin refused to revel in the victory. He hinted that the side still have plenty of work ahead of them, but declined to give details when pressed.
“Of course, there are some areas where we need to improve,” said the former Singapore international.
“I’m not going to reveal it here. But things need to be improved. In football, there are always mistakes… They need to rectify their mistake and we are definitely going to improve them.”
Aidil did applaud his players for the effort they put in, giving them the credit for “working hard” and getting a clean sheet, especially since the team have several players below 25.
It appears that Home United is set for a good season ahead, according to Faris.
The winger, named man of the match, believes that the team is clicking well and getting into a groove.
“From the two games that we have played, we’ve shown that we are gelling well,” the 24-year-old said. “You can’t compare between the team last year and this year’s team. It’s totally different.
“Everyone is fit and raring to go. Credit to the team for doing so well over both games. We are looking forward and we won’t stop here,” he added.
Aidil preferred to exercise caution given the team’s busy schedules competing in both the AFC Cup and the domestic S.League.
“Looking at the schedule, it’s tight. I have to take care of the players and players need to have a good recovery,” he explained.
“This year, the standards of the S.League teams are getting even. All the teams are getting stronger.
“Of course, we want to do better than last season, and continue with the young players. Our targets last season to get into the AFC competitions and play good football will continue.
“But we really need to take it a game at a time.”