News • July 12, 2017

The New Paper League Cup 2017: Protectors Eyeing Semis Berth

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The New Paper League Cup 2017 (Group A)

Home United vs Albirex Niigata (S)

(13 July, Thursday, 7.30pm, Jalan Besar Stadium)

Written by: Rashid Sulaiman

Despite sitting at the bottom of Group A, Home United head coach Aidil Sharin believes that his side are able to clinch a win against Albirex Niigata (S) and qualify for the semi-finals of The New Paper League Cup when the two teams meet at the Jalan Besar Stadium on Thursday.

The Protectors started the campaign with a 4-3 reverse to Warriors FC before being held to a 1-1 draw by Hougang United. With only a point so far in the group stage, the Protectors will need a win by two clear goals against the White Swans to ensure progression.

Although Aidil remains optimistic about his team chances against the defending champions, it might not be smooth sailing for him as Kazuaki Yoshinaga charges have been known to be a tough nut to crack.

“Albirex is on four point and if we beat them  and Warriors-Hougang play out a draw, it all depends on goal difference to see who goes to the semi-finals. I am not going to focus on the other team’s result,” said Aidil, who will be without Khairul Nizam and Afiq Yunos as both saw red in their previous match.

“Hassan (Sunny)’s return helped the team and you can see the team gained confidence with him. Now it goes down to the last game and we have to win, but I’m still sticking to my principle of giving the reserves a chance to play.”

While Aidil is contemplating between a mixture of seniors and youth, his opposite number Kazuaki Yoshinaga has vowed to name a strong lineup as they aim to defend The New Paper League Cup title.

“We will put our best team to win the game because this is a tournament which we want to win. It’s important that we respect the league and our fans by putting our best team,” said Yoshinaga.

“It is going to be difficult for the players as they are playing three games in six days, but this is a good experience for the players to make them stronger.”

Although recent results have not gone their way in both this competition and the Great Eastern-Hyundai S.League, the White Swans’ gaffer insist that it’s a good learning curve for his charges.

“Over the course of a long season, a team will have ups and downs when you are not going through a good run of results. But our players are able to bounce back back from that and it’s important for them and the team,” explained Yoshinaga.

With such optimism in Albirex team, Aidil might want to be wary with his tinkering of the first eleven and hand starts to seasoned campaigners such as Stipe Plazibat, Hariss Harun and Sirina Camara against the White Swans.

Suspensions: Afiq Yunos, Khairul Nizam (both Home United)

Home United – WLWLD

10/07/17 Home United 1-1 Hougang United (The New Paper League Cup)

07/07/17 Warriors FC 4-3 Home United (The New Paper League Cup)

03/07/17 Balestier Khalsa 1-2 Home United

30/06/17 Home United 2-3 Hougang United

23/06/17 Albirex Niigata (S) 0-2 Home United

Albirex Niigata (S) – WLLDW

10/07/1 Albirex Niigata (S) 2-0 Warriors FC (The New Paper League Cup)

07/07/17 Hougang United 0-0 Albirex Niigata (S) (The New Paper League Cup)

03/07/17 Hougang United 2-1 Albirex Niigata (S)

23/06/17 Albirex Niigata (S) 0-2 Home United

16/06/17 Albirex Niigata (S) 4-0 Brunei DPMM