Singapore Premier League • May 23, 2014
Albirex Take On Confident Young Tigers
Harimau Muda vs Albirex Niigata (S)
(May 23, Friday, 8.45pm, Pasir Gudang Stadium)
Written by: Phoon Jia Hui
Harimau Muda are high in confidence at the moment and will be looking to avenge their first-round loss to Albirex Niigata (S) at Pasir Gudang Stadium.
Albirex emerged comfortable 3-0 winners when the two teams met earlier in the opening fixture this season. The Malaysians held up well in the first-half but their resilience broke apart in the second to eventually concede and end up on the losing side.
However, the Young Tigers have managed to snap a wretched run of ten games without victory with two consecutive wins over Woodlands Wellington (1-0) at home followed by a 2-1 triumph over Tanjong Pagar United in their last match.
In both games, Ramzi Sufian was on target as he also earned the penalty which teammate Shahrul Igwan converted to get Razip Ismail’s side the win over Tanjong Pagar and he is expected to play a key role here again.
Albirex meanwhile saw their three-match unbeaten run in the Great Eastern Yeo’s S.League come to a halt after they were defeated by Brunei DPMM 2-1 at the Hassanal Bolkiah National Stadium nine days ago.
The White Swans took the lead through skipper Itsuki Yamada but DPMM made home advantage count as they responded with two goals from hotshots Roy O’Donovan and Rodrigo Tosi to walk away with all three points.
With Hougang United breathing down their necks, fifth-placed Albirex will no doubt be looking for a win here to ensure they are not overtaken by the Cheetahs whilst strengthening their chances of a top-three finish.
It remains to be seen which Harimau and Albirex team turns up though, with the more clinical one the likelier of the two to emerge as winners.
Key Men To Watch
Harimau Muda: Ramzi Sufian
A livewire in the Harimau Muda side, Ramzi has been tormenting opposing defences with his pace and mazy runs.
Against Tanjong Pagar United in their last match, Ramzi put in a stellar performance upfront as he scored one and made another to lead his team to a 2-1 win over the Jaguars.
According to InStat, the youngster was pretty decent with a 56% pass accuracy and three out of the five attempted dribbles were successful.
Albirex Niigata (S): Kazuki Sakamoto
In his second season with the White Swans, Sakamoto is continuing to do what he does best and that is to score goals.
At the halfway mark of this season, he has already bagged eight goals and is just five short of his haul in 2013. Against a shaky Harimau Muda defence, the 24-year-old will be relishing the chance to add to his tally.
Harimau Muda – WWLLL
16/5/14 Tanjong Pagar United 1-2 Harimau Muda
7/5/14 Harimau Muda 1-0 Woodlands Wellington
30/4/14 Balestier Khalsa 2-0 Harimau Muda
24/4/14 Harimau Muda 3-4 Hougang United
20/4/14 Harimau Muda 2-3 Courts Young Lions
Albirex Niigata (S) – LWDWL
14/5/14 Brunei DPMM 2-1 Albirex Niigata (S)
8/5/14 Albirex Niigata (S) 4-2 Geylang International
1/5/14 Tampines Rovers 1-1 Albirex Niigata (S)
27/4/14 Albirex Niigata (S) 4-2 Home United
16/4/14 Albirex Niigata (S) 0-4 Warriors FC
Head to Head (S.League)
27/2/14 Albirex Niigata (S) 3-0 Harimau Muda
7/5/13 Albirex Niigata (S) 1-0 Harimau Muda
22/2/13 Harimau Muda 0-1 Albirex Niigata (S)
22/7/12 Albirex Niigata (S) 1-0 Harimau Muda
18/3/12 Harimau Muda 0-0 Albirex Niigata (S)