League Cup • July 10, 2014
League Cup Debutants Take On Albirex
StarHub League Cup Group A
Albirex Niigata (S) vs Police Sports Association (NFL)
(July 10, Thursday, 8.00pm, Jurong East Stadium)
Written by: Phoon Jia Hui
Albirex Niigata (S) face a must-win clash when they take on Police Sports Association at Jurong East Stadium on Thursday evening, having fallen to Tanjong Pagar United in their opening StarHub League Cup Group A fixture three days ago.
The White Swans were stunned by a decisive Tanjong Pagar side who put four past them without reply as they fell to their third straight defeat in all competitions.
In that game, the 2011 champions were second best for most parts and were toothless upfront with main culprits Kazuki Sakamoto and Kazuya Okazaki unable to find a way past a stubborn Tanjong Pagar defence.
They were also defensively poor as they allowed the likes of Monsef Zerka and Ahmad Latiff – who had a storming game – too much space and were subsequently punished.
Albirex will have only three days of rest before they take on Police as compared to Tanjong Pagar’s six, but coach Tatsuyuki Okuyama remains unfazed and promises to give their all.
“I don’t mind that we are getting lesser rest time,” he said.
“Although we don’t have much information about Police, we will try to play our football no matter what. We need opponents to play football, so we don’t mind whoever the opponent are.”
However, Police – debutants in the competition – will pose a different threat as compared to the Jaguars and Albirex will have every reason to be wary.
A hardworking and energetic side, they were champions of the National Football League Division 1 last year and currently sit top of the standings having won six out of their opening seven league games.
Leading the line for the uniformed outfit is forward Suhaimi Maskun who has struck nine goals thus far and is the league’s top scorer.
He is ably supported by Danial Razali – once on the rosters of the Geylang International Prime League team – and has five goals to his name this season as well as Firdaus Tohari who will pull the strings in midfield.
While Police have a varied playing style, it is likely that they will employ the soak-and-strike strategy against a side like Albirex who can be suspect at the back at times and try cause an upset.
With the top two teams from each group making the quarter-finals, it is imperative that Albirex pick up all three points here as a defeat would effectively spell the end of their League Cup hopes.
Albirex Niigata (S) – LLLWW
7/7/14 Tanjong Pagar United 4-0 Albirex Niigata (S) (StarHub League Cup Group A)
4/7/14 Brunei DPMM 2-1 Albirex Niigata (S) (RHB Singapore Cup QF 2nd Leg)
29/6/14 Albirex Niigata (S) 3-4 Brunei DPMM (RHB Singapore Cup QF 1st Leg)
22/6/14 Albirex Niigata (S) 4-2 Courts Young Lions
18/6/14 Tanjong Pagar United 1-2 Albirex Niigata (S)
Police SA – WWWWW
22/6/14 Singapore Khalsa Association 0-2 Police SA
15/6/14 Police SA 5-2 Admiralty FC
8/6/14 Singapore Cricket Club 0-3 Police SA
1/6/14 Police SA 4-2 Eunos Crescent FC
25/5/14 Tiong Bahru FC 2-4 Police SA