News • August 21, 2016

Opportunity For White Swans To Extend Lead At Summit


Written by: Isaac Tan

Balestier Khalsa vs Albirex Niigata (S)

(Friday, 19 August, 7.45pm, Jalan Besar Stadium)

With Tampines Rovers failing to pick up any points earlier this week, Great Eastern Yeo’s S.League leaders Albirex Niigata (S) have the opportunity to extend their lead at the top when they take on Balestier Khalsa at the Jalan Besar Stadium on Friday night.

The Stags fell to a shock 2-1 defeat to Hougang United, Albirex will be keen to take full advantage of the situation.

The White Swans are currently a point ahead of the Stags going into this match and a win for coach Naoki Nauro’s team will give them a four points lead with five matches to go for both teams after this round.

Tampines and Albirex have been locked in a title race throughout the season where a drop of a single point could well be the difference between being crowned champions and wallowing in the regret of second place.

In their previous game, Albirex did well to defeat the Garena Young Lions, overcoming a resolute defence in the first half, before cracking open the lion’s den in the second half. Tomoki Menda opened the scoring a minute after the restart before the goals came pouring in in the last 10 minutes of the match. Kento Nagasaki got a double while Tatsuro Inui managed one as well.

Up next would be injury-stricken Balestier Khalsa. Emir Lotinac and Zulkiffli Hassim have a 50 percent chance of playing while Fadhil Noh is recovering from a fever and may not make it for the match. Similarly, Gary Loo is facing a late fitness test. Fazli Ayob and Ho Wai Loon are also out for the match and will join long-time injury concern Daniel Ong on the sidelines.

But an injured animal is always dangerous and the Tigers will aim to turn in a similar performance that they showed in their last match. The Toa Payoh-based club are coming off a win over the Young Lions as well, having beaten them 3-1 two weeks ago for their third win of the campaign. They will be eager to enjoy the sweet taste of victory again.

However, their expectations has to be kept in check against the meanest defence and attack in the league. The Tigers will remember how easily Albirex opened their defence in a 0-6 thrashing earlier in the season. That has been the biggest defeat they have suffered in recent times and on Friday’s live broadcast from Jalan Besar Stadium, a repeat of such a result will be avoided at all cost.

Albirex, in contrast, will have every player available for selection in this important clash in the title race. A four-point lead at the top of the table would be a huge advantage into the final stretch of the season and that would be firmly on the minds of the Japanese team.

Albirex Niigata (S) – LWWLW

11/08/16 Albirex Niigata (S) 4-0 Garena Young Lions (S.League)

05/08/16   Brunei DPMM 2-1 Albirex Niigata (S) (S.League)

30/07/16   Brunei DPMM 0-2 Albirex Niigata (S) (League Cup)

26/07/16   Albirex Niigata (S) 4-0 Tampines Rovers (League Cup)

22/07/16  Geylang International 1-0 Albirex Niigata (S) (League Cup)

Balestier Khalsa – DLDLL

05/08/16 Garena Young Lions 1-3 Balestier Khalsa (S.League)

22/07/16  Hougang United 2-1 Balestier Khalsa (League Cup)

21/07/16  Balestier Khalsa 2-2 Home United (League Cup)

18/07/16  Albirex Niigata (S) 2-0 Balestier Khalsa (League Cup)

14/07/16  Balestier Khalsa 2-2 Geylang International (League Cup)

Head to Head (S.League)

6/05/16 Albirex Niigata (S) 6-0 Balestier Khalsa

27/02/2016 Balestier Khalsa 1-1 Albirex Niigata (S)

16/10/2015 Balestier Khalsa 1-0 Albirex Niigata (S)

23/07/2015 Albirex Niigata (S) 0-1 Balestier Khalsa

6/10/2014 Balestier Khalsa 2-0 Albirex Niigata (S)