Hougang United host Geylang International in their season opener on Monday at the Hougang Stadium, which is also the third match of this year's S.League
Both the teams competed hard for an AFC Cup spot last season only to lose it to Home United but with revamped teams, they both have a chance to make amends this season. Also, with Philippe Aw taking over as head coach from Balagumaran, the Cheetahs have it in them to challenge for the title.
Hougang were active in the transfer season signing some of the biggest names including defender Atsushi Shirota from defending champions Albirex Niigata. Former Madura United (Indonesia) striker Pablo Rodriguez Aracil has also come on board and he will be key to their success this season.
Aw has also signed former Tampines Rovers midfielder Fabian Kwak and the side have also retained last season's Young Player of the Year Anumanthan to aid their their title hunt. With a renovated, state-of-the-art dug out and dressing room, Hougang will want to make Hougang Stadium their fortress.
On the other hand, Mark Hartmann's departure has dented the Eagles unit but the arrival of Argentine Ricardo Sendra and Costa Rican Victor Coto is expected to add firepower to their squad. Having retained 14 players from the last season's Geylang will depend on consistency and an early-season test against favourites Hougang will help them assess their strength.
Squad: Rudy, Fairoz, Hudzaifi, Delwinder, Shirota, Anumanathan, Farhan, Sairudin, Rodriguez, Kogure, Nazari, Kwok, Barudin, Iqbal, Miswan, Alleh, Khalid, Nurhilmi, Afiq, Tan, Arifin, Zalandi, Wahyudi
Squad: Amin, Aplin, Ichikawa, Halim, Akhbar, Gabriel, Sendra, Faritz, Ghani, Sulaiman, Ng, Coto, Recha, Rahman, Fahrish, Yusoff, Anuar, Taufiq, Buhari