News Singapore Premier League • June 1, 2018

Singapore Premier League Preview: No room for Albirex complacency against ‘wonderful’ DPMM foreign stars


Taku Morinaga is Albirex Niigata FC (S)’s little magician.

SINGAPORE, 1 JUNE 2018Brunei DPMM FC will be looking to bounce back from last week’s defeat but it will be a huge task for them to do so against the perfect Albirex Niigata FC (S) in the Great Eastern-Hyundai Singapore Permier League (SPL) on Sunday, 2 June at the Jurong East Stadium. Kick-off is at 8.30pm.

BACKGROUND Another week in the SPL, another opportunity to ruin Albirex’s perfect record.

The Japanese side have won 10 on the trot – the best start ever any club has had to a SPL season – and they are showing no signs of stopping yet.

Having won 31 consecutive games at the Jurong East Stadium, the leaders will be confident heading into the clash against DPMM this weekend.

But Head Coach Kazuaki Yoshinaga is not entertaining any notion that his team can simply turn up and get three points from the game.

“It is impossible for us to play at a high level all the time. Therefore, we must always keep our focus and stay grounded,” he said.

“We must improve further. It is impossible to play at a high level with the current performance.”

Yoshinaga added that DPMM, whom they beat 2-0 earlier this season, cannot be taken lightly simply because their foreign players are “particularly wonderful”.

“We always respect our opponents and want to be humble. I feel that the challenges we are going to face against Brunei will be that they will be difficult to break down,” said the 50-year-old.

However, Rene Weber knows that his side will have their work cut out. The Brazilian pointed out that while DPMM were able to match Albirex in the second half of their first meeting, his players are fasting this time round.

“We have the team to beat them … but to win, we must play hard and be very organised,” he said. “We have to score from the chances that come our way. If we are able to score first, then it will be interesting to see how they deal with the situation.”

The odds though are clearly stacked against the Bruneians, given that Albirex have won four straight matches against them and lost just once in the last 10 meetings.

Albirex will continue to miss centre-back Shun Kumagai, who is recovering from a meniscus tear, as well as forward Adam Swandi, who is struggling with a knee problem.

DPMM’s Iranian forward Mojtaba Mollasaraei missed the last two matches and it is unclear if he will be able to start against Albirex, although Weber has said that the full team will be available.

Albirex: WWWWW

14/04/18: Albirex 2-0 DPMM – Singapore Premier League
16/09/17: DPMM 0-1 Albirex – Singapore Premier League
16/06/17: Albirex 4-0 DPMM – Singapore Premier League
09/03/17: Albirex 2-0 DPMM – Singapore Premier League
05/08/16: DPMM 2-1 Albirex – Singapore Premier League

Taku Morinaga – Albirex
The dimunitive forward was simply unstoppable in Albirex’s last game, as he scored a stunning hat-trick and notched an assist. His explosiveness on the pitch more than makes up for his small stature and with six goals and four assists to his name so far, DPMM will have to shackle him tightly.

Volodymyr Priyomov – DPMM
When Priyomov gets going, DPMM do likewise – such is his importance to the team.

Having not scored in his last two matches, the Ukrainian will be keen to add to his seven-goal haul – and if he can do that against Albirex, DPMM may well stand a chance to win here.

Albirex Head Coach Yoshinaga:
“We are not interested in that (talk of title being a foregone conclusion already). We only improve by looking at the reality, and there is still a lot of work to be done for these boys.”

DPMM Head Coach Weber: “Albirex are a very good team… they have the privilege no other clubs in Singapore have. They have 25 players coming from a top-four Asian country, so (there is) no surprise about their perfect record so far.”

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