News • June 21, 2017

Albirex Drawn With Home in Group Of Death


Written by: Phoon Jia Hui

The New Paper League Cup 2017 draw was held at the Jalan Besar Stadium on Wednesday (June 21) afternoon, where the participating teams were made known of their opponents of the annual competition.

With the exception of the Garena Young Lions, eight S.League clubs will be competing for the trophy. The teams have been divided into two groups of four where the top two teams of each group will proceed to the semifinals and fight for a place in the Final on 21 July.

In Group A, defending champions Albirex Niigata (S) have been drawn alongside AFC Cup ASEAN Zone finalist Home United, nine-time league champions Warriors FC and Hougang United in what is proverbially known as the ‘Group Of Death’.

Speaking on the sidelines of the draw, Albirex captain Shuto Inaba acknowledged it is going to be tough but is relishing the challenge.

“We will have difficult games coming up in the group,” the 24-year-old admitted.

“Therefore we need to be at our best to win the competition again. It’s going to be tough but I believe we are ready.”

When asked if the White Swans have what it takes to win it for a fourth time, Inaba was quietly confident that they can do it.

“I hope so. It’s a tough group, with other three good teams in it,” he said.

“But we have quality players in the team who can play football and it’s important to win. To do that, we have to perform in every match we play.

“We won all four titles last year and this competition is equally important so we are definitely fired up to win this again.”

“Home United will be the toughest team in the group. Of course other teams are tough as well so it’s important to give our all if we want to win the games.”     

Meanwhile, 2013 winners Balestier Khalsa will fight for a spot in the last four with two-time winners Brunei DPMM, Geylang International and Tampines Rovers in Group B.

Balestier coach Marko Kraljevic expressed optimism after seeing the draw results and believes it will give his team a good chance of progressing.

“The draw is not too bad, we managed to avoid Albirex so I think it’s good,” Kraljevic said.

“It gives us some chance to qualify for the semi-finals and Balestier have usually done well in Cup games. Hopefully we can raise up our game and progress to the next round.”

With the Tigers sitting in seventh out of a nine-team Great Eastern-Hyundai S.League and having also crashed out of the RHB Singapore Cup, this is their only chance of winning something this season and Kraljevic insists he will put out his ‘best team’ to compete.

“This is our only chance of silverware this season so we will focus on this competition,” he said.

“We will try our best and we must do better than this and hopefully everything will work out for us.”

The tournament will run from 7 July to 21 July and the fixtures will be announced at a later date.

Full draw below:

Group A

Home United

Hougang United

Albirex Niigata (S)

Warriors FC

Group B

Brunei DPMM

Balestier Khalsa

Geylang International

Tampines Rovers