News Singapore Premier League • September 28, 2018

Singapore Premier League Preview: Warriors determined to ruin Albirex’s invincible season


Warriors FC striker Khairul Nizam will look to continue his good form.

SINGAPORE, 28 SEP 2018Warriors FC will aim to prevent Albirex Niigata FC (S) from becoming the first side to go an entire Great Eastern-Hyundai Singapore Premier League (SPL) season unbeaten when they host them on Saturday, September 29 at the Choa Chu Kang Stadium. Kick off is at 5.30pm.

BACKGROUND Can Warriors ruin Albirex’s perfect seson? Only three teams – Balestier Khalsa FC, Home United FC and Hougang United FC have avoided defeat against the dominant White Swans this season.

The Japanese side are on the verge of making history again, having sewn up the league title in August.

A defeat may see Warriors slip down to sixth if Balestier beat Brunei DPMM FC on the same night, which would be a disappointment as they were at one stage in the running for third spot.

The odds are stacked against the Warriors though. They are currently on a streak of six straight defeats against Albirex, with their last win coming two years ago in September 2016.

They will also be missing two key players in Ho Wai Loon and Emmeric Ong due to suspension.

“Honestly, it will be a tough match against them, no doubt about it,” said Warriors midfielder Ammirul Emmran.

“There’s a slight worry on (dropping to sixth). That’s why against Albirex, all of the players know that we have to win or at least draw. We know we can’t afford to lose.

“We know that we have to run non-stop for the whole game until the final whistle because Albirex always have the ball in possession and also, their passing game (is very good) and they are also very dangerous with their final passes. We have to be focused on that and most importantly, we can’t let them score.”

That said, Albirex are coming into this game just two days after a bruising encounter in the Singapore Cup semi-final first leg against Home, which they won 3-2. With all to play for in the second leg next Wednesday, it may be interesting to see if the White Swans opt to rest some of their players as they aim to sweep all the trophies on offer once again.

Albirex have only Kaishu Yamazaki out with injury, and both Kenya Takahashi and Shuhei Hoshino will return to the side after being suspended in the Singapore Cup semi-final tie against Home.

As for Warriors, Ho and Ong are suspended. Top scorer Johnathan Behe should return to the side, having missed the defeat to Home United for personal reasons.

Warriors: LLLDD
Albirex: WDWWW

08/07/18: Albirex 2-0 Warriors – Singapore Premier League
13/05/18: Warriors 1-2 Albirex – Singapore Premier League
03/11/17: Albirex 5-1 Warriors – Singapore Premier League
29/07/17: Warriors 1-2 Albirex – Singapore Premier League
21/07/17: Albirex 1-0 Warriors – League Cup

Khairul Nizam – Warriors
The robust forward seem to be getting into the groove, just in time for the Suzuki Cup in November. In his last couple of games, he has two goals and one assist, and led the frontline with aplomb against Home as well. With Behe back, it is expected for Nizam to move out wide again though.

Adam Swandi – Albirex
The forward has been one of the outstanding players in the league and has hit a couple of crucial goals in Albirex’s last two matches.

Warriors midfielder Ammirul: “Yes, we are confident going towards the game and are looking to be the first team to beat them because we have nothing to lose. All of us are raring to go this Saturday to show we can beat Albirex.

“It’s definitely frustrating to see us lose three matches in a row, knowing that we had a good game in some of the matches. Personally, (I believe) we always fell short in the last few moments of the game; we let in easy goals… and didn’t focus until the final whistle.”

Albirex striker Hoshino: “I feel honored (to be part of this unbeaten team). I am glad that I have experienced this because I think that I cannot have such an experience anywhere else.

“I will be happy (if I end up as the top scorer). It is not easy to win the top scorer award and to win the top scorer on Saturday, it will be a huge achievement for me.”

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