News Singapore Premier League • August 10, 2018

Singapore Premier League Preview: Home’s Shakir calls for belief to topple Albirex


Song Ui-young is back and raring to go for Home.

SINGAPORE, 10 AUG 2018A Home United FC squad high from clinching the AFC Cup ASEAN Zonal title will look to become the first team to earn a win against Great Eastern-Hyundai Singapore Premier League champions Albirex Niigata FC (S) on Sunday, 12 August. Kick off is at 5.30pm at Bishan Stadium.

BACKGROUND All the attention in Singapore football is not on champions Albirex Niigata FC (S) right now, but newly-crowned AFC Cup ASEAN Zonal champions Home United FC.

The Protectors overcame all odds to become the first Singaporean team to do so, giving local football a much-needed boost at the same time.

Fittingly, they will now take on the White Swans on Sunday in another contest where the odds are stacked against them.

After all, champions Albirex are still unbeaten and have dropped points just once this year.

But at stake for Home is the second spot in the league, where the opportunity to compete in the AFC Cup comes with it and having tasted success already, they are desperate to have the chance to defend their status as ASEAN champions.

“We must finish as high as possible in order to take part in the AFC Cup again next year,” noted defender Shakir Hamzah.

“It’s a new game for us and we shouldn’t be complacent (despite our AFC Cup success)… if we take this game lightly, we will surely get punished by Albirex.

“Brunei DPMM FC have two games in hand and to prevent them from catching up to us, we have to do our part instead of hoping for them to drop points. We need to be as close to the top as possible.”

Home are currently a point behind second-placed Tampines Rovers FC, while DPMM are six points behind with two games in hand.

“We have shown that we are capable of soaking up the toughest attacking players in the AFC Cup, so if we play to our strength, we will be able to do well against Albirex,” Shakir added.

“With Song (Ui-young) and Isaka (Cernak) in the squad, we can have a different game plan with two attacking talents in the squad.”

“We have to believe that we can do it against them. There must be self-belief among us to beat Albirex.”

Home will have Arshad Shamim out suspended, while centre-back Abdil Qaiyyim is likely to miss this fixture after suffering a hamstring injury against Ceres midweek.

The good news is that Shahrin Saberin, who replaced Abdil in the game, put on a solid showing, while Isaka Cernak already looks comfortable in a Home jersey. Song’s goal-scoring return against Ceres will no doubt give Home a massive boost as well.

Kaishu Yamazaki remains a doubt for Albirex, who should have everyone else available.

Albirex: WDWWW

09/06/18: Albirex 3-0 Home – Singapore Premier League
18/04/18: Home 1-6 Albirex – Singapore Premier League
30/09/17: Home 1-2 Albirex – Singapore Cup
27/09/17: Albirex 3-1 Home – Singapore Cup
19/09/17: Home 1-1 Albirex – Singapore Premier League

Song Ui-young – Home
The forward played as though he was never away against Ceres, putting in a outstanding shift and scored the second goal to put the game out of reach for the Filipino side. Song was everywhere on the pitch, helping out his defence when he wasn’t linking up with Shahril Ishak and Cernak in the attacking third.

It was his off-the-ball movement that got him his goal against Ceres. A player who makes Home tick in attack, Song will be key for the Protectors against Albirex.

Shuhei Hoshino – Albirex
The towering striker is continued his impressive goal-scoring form against Brunei DPMM in midweek and looks set to run away with the top-scorer award this year.

Strong on the ball, but surprisingly quick with his feet for someone of his size, Hoshino has proved to be tough to stop for opposing defences all year. With 19 goals to his name already, along with five assists, it wouldn’t be a surprise if the Japanese striker ends up as a nominee for Player of the Year.

Home defender Shakir:
“We don’t need to prove anything to Albirex. We need to be at our best to do well this weekend. There’s no room for complacency, but more hard work and determination to improve ourselves as a team and individual.”

Albirex forward Adam Swandi: “Of course their morale will be boosted after the great achievement but we will take this game like any other game we have played, which is to be 100 per cent focused on doing what we should do individually and as a team. We shouldn’t be afraid of them and should play our game and try to get all three points.

“Head Coach Kazuaki Yoshinaga always says every game is a chance to improve ourselves individually and as a team. Yes, we may have won the league but that doesn’t change anything as we have to keep on improving if we want to stay as professional footballers in the future. We have to keep on delivering good performances and results for the remaining league games and also the upcoming cup.”

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