BY NICK MEASURES Follow on Twitter
Following the news of their merger with Woodlands at the end of last year, the Cheetahs are clearly looking to make a stronger challenge for the title this season, with a raft of changes to the back room staff.
Most notable of those is the arrival of former Singapore international Salim Moin, who was previously coach at Tampines and Woodlands. He takes over the head coach position from Amin Nasir, who’ll remain at the club as a technical advisor.
One of Salim’s first jobs has been to oversee the arrival of three new foreign players, as promising midfielder Shunsuke Nakatake is the only overseas player to remain on the books from last season.
The new faces include former Equatorial Guinea international, Francisco Salvador Ela who started his career at Real Madrid C before plying his trade in the lower Spanish leagues and Hungary. The 34-year old Salvador arrives via recent spells in Hong Kong and Laos.
He’ll be joined up front by the young Japanese striker Takahashi Manato, 22 who signs from J3 club Fujieda MYFC. Manato has already made a quick impression scoring in his debut, a 3-1 friendly loss against Malaysian Super League Champions Johor Darul Ta’zim.
The other new overseas arrival is Manato’s compatriot, defender Kunihiro Yamashita who makes the shorter journey from Tampines Rovers, having started his S-League career with Albirex Niigata S.
Salim will be hoping that these new additions, along with a number of other signings from within the S-League, most notably Ruzaini Zainal from Tanjong Pagar and Fareez Farhan from Young Lions will be enough to get them higher after the table this season.
They’ll have to do so despite the loss of a number of players to rivals, with Warriors FC signing up Fazli Jaffar and defender Syaqir Sulaiman.
Fans will get a chance to see how Hougang’s preparations are going in a series of friendlies this month, including against the Singapore Olympic squad (14 Jan) and Pahang FA (17 Jan).The S-League is due to kick off in March, though Warriors FC and Bhalestier Khalsa’s campaigns will be starting in mid-February. Warriors take on Myanmar’s Yadanarbon on the 4 February as they attempt to qualify for the Asian Champions League while Bhalestier will kick off their debut AFC Cup campaign against either Kitchee FC or Sun Pegasus on 24 February.