Home’s where the money is

Home’s where the money is
Fancied: Home United players like Qiu Li (left) will benefit from the fitness regimen of coach Lee Lim Saeng (inset) in the StarHub League Cup.

Starhub League Cup

The competition represents great value for punters with quite a few surprise winners since its inception in 2007. Our writer runs the rule over the teams:

 

Favourites

Brunei DPMM FC — $3.50

They are the only team to have won this competition twice, in 2009 and 2012, and made the final last year as well.

But they are placed in a tough Group D with last season’s winners Balestier Khalsa, as well as Hougang United, who can beat any team on their day.

DPMM do have the league’s best attack and defence, but at $3.50 to win the Cup, they don’t represent value for money. TAMPINES ROVERS — $4

RHB Singapore Cup semi-finalists along with DPMM, Home United and Balestier, Tampines have rebounded after coach Salim Moin’s departure to ensure they are still on track for a unique treble.

However, like DPMM, they have a tough group to negotiate, with Geylang International and Warriors FC thrown into the mix in Group B.

Again, $4 is not enough to tempt me to wager on a team that could get knocked out in the group stages.

 

Home United — $5

If there is a pre-tournament favourite I would put my money on, it has to be Home United. Odds on to qualify as leaders from Group C, which also features Woodlands Wellington and amateur side Singapore Recreation Club, they should also have the legs — as a result of coach Lee Lim Saeng’s fitness regimen — to last the distance should any game go into extra time.

 

Albirex Niigata and Warriors FC — $5.50

Albirex have good League Cup pedigree, winning it in 2011 and making the semi-finals last season. They also have relatively easy group opponents, Tanjong Pagar and Police SA, but they lack the consistency.

The Warriors, on the other hand, went on a seven-match unbeaten streak in March and April to catapult themselves into the league title race.

Another similar run could clinch them their first trophy in this competition.

 

Dark Horses

Balestier Khalsa — $12

With Park Kang Jin in full throttle, the Tigers can triumph in a cup competition as they shown last season in winning the League Cup, and finishing third in the Singapore Cup.

But no team have successfully defended their title in this competition, and while $12 looks like good odds, I’m not about to bet against history.

 

Hougang United — $15

I’m a Hougang boy, and my team are looking unbeatable at the moment as they are still on an eight-match unbeaten run in the S.League despite my repeated predictions against them.

Can they make their third final in this competition, after appearances in 2007 and 2011? Sure.

Am I going to jinx them by predicting they will win? No.

 

Outsiders

Tanjong Pagar, Woodlands Wellington and Geylang International — $50

This may be the bargain basement, and if you have one of these three teams on your ticket, it could well pay off.

I would rule Tanjong Pagar out simply because they have not beaten any top teams this season.

Woodlands have surprised Tampines, Balestier and the Warriors, but the problem is, these are three of their only four wins this year.

Which leaves us with Geylang, who are keen to make up for their heartbreaking shootout loss to Balestier in the Singapore Cup quarter-finals.

Under Jorg Steinebrunner (right, in white), they have regained confidence.

If the defence delivers the goods, they could be the dark horses.

 

Police SA and Singapore Recreation Club — $100

Champions and runners-up respectively of last season’s National Football League, the bookmakers have naturally ranked them outsiders. Either of them will have to play well above themselves, or be very lucky, to win a match in their groups, much less win the Cup.

 

Fixtures

GROUP A

● Tanjong Pagar v Albirex (July 7)

● Albirex v Police SA (July 10)

● Tanjong Pagar v Police SA (July 13)

 

GROUP B

● Geylang v Tampines (July 7)

● Tampines v Warriors (July 10)

● Warriors v Geylang (July 13)

 

GROUP C

● Woodlands v Home United (July 8)

● Woodlands v SRC (July 11)

● Home United v SRC (July 14)

 

GROUP D

● Balestier v Hougang (July 8)

● DPMM FC v Balestier (July 11)

● Hougang v DPMM FC (July 14)


This article was first published on JULY 7, 2014.
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