Singapore Premier League • May 11, 2018

Singapore Premier League Preview: Warriors looking for Albirex upset


Jonathan Behe has been in sensational form for Warriors FC so far.

SINGAPORE, 11 MAY 2018Still win-less to date, Warriors FC will be looking for a victorious end to their first round of Great Eastern-Hyundai Singapore Premier League (SPL) fixtures when they host leaders Albirex Niigata FC (S) at Choa Chu Kang Stadium on Sunday evening, 13 May. Kick-off is at 5.30pm.

BACKGROUND After seven games played, Mirko Grabovac’s charges remain one of the three sides in the SPL without a win to their name.

The nine-time league champions find themselves languishing in seventh, having garnered only five points out of a possible 21. They have not tasted victory since a 2-1 triumph over Home United FC in October 2017 and are on an unwanted run they will be keen to halt.

Recent matches have given them hope that they could soon turn the corner, with their latest result a 3-3 draw against Home last week where they showed great spirit to salvage a point from 3-1 down.

Midfielder Ammirul Emmran admitted their form has been “frustrating” but believes they can cope with the threat Albirex are going to pose.

“We could have won most of our games in the first round, but we have learnt to pick ourselves up together as a team and shown more focus and concentration,” said the 23-year-old.

“It will be a tough approach against Albirex because we are all aware of how they will play, which is their quick passing (style). But we have nothing to lose as Albirex have been on a good run so far and I am looking forward to getting something against them.”

The return of four-goal Jonathan Behe has also coincided with Warriors’ resurgence, with the team creating chances and looking more dangerous on the attack.

“Behe has been tremendous and a huge asset to the team,” Ammirul added. “He’s come back from injury by scoring and hopefully he will get crucial goals (again) to help us get a result.”

Meanwhile, Albirex are in irresistible form, having won all of their six games. The White Swans toiled to a narrow 1-0 victory over Hougang United FC in their last match, with full-back Kenya Takahashi netting the all-important goal 15 minutes from the end to continue their fine start to the season.

With the chance to go eleven points clear of Tampines Rovers FC at the top, midfielder Taku Morinaga has urged his teammates to capitalise on it.

“Even though it was a difficult game for us against Hougang, the most important thing was to win the game in whatever circumstances,” Morinaga reflected. “Thus, I’m glad we came away with it despite not being at our best and we will work even harder as we know Warriors are a team we cannot take lightly.”

It is worth noting Kazuaki Yoshinaga’s men have won their past five meetings against Warriors and the latter will certainly be itching to set things straight.

TEAM NEWS Warriors will welcome Ismadi Mukhtar back from suspension, although long-term absentee Khairul Nizam continues to be sidelined with a knee injury. Defender Delwinder Singh will join Nizam on the treatment table after pulling his hamstring in the game against Home.

For Albirex, defender Shun Kumagai is the only player who has been ruled out. He faces about another two months on the sidelines, having recently undergone surgery for a meniscus tear in his knee.

Warriors: DDLDD
Albirex: WWWWW

Albirex 5-1 Warriors – Singapore Premier League
Warriors 1-2 Albirex – Singapore Premier League
Albirex 1-0 Warriors – League Cup
Albirex 2-0 Warriors – League Cup
Albirex 4-2 Warriors – Singapore Premier League

Tajeli Salamat – Warriors
An industrious player, the utility man signed for Warriors a month ago and made his debut in their 1-1 draw against Hougang at left midfield. Since then, his versatility has seen him being deployed in a number of positions on the pitch, with his ability to put in a good cross making him an asset to the team.

Adam Swandi – Albirex
It is just six games into the season for the White Swans but the Singapore international has not looked out of place at all. Showing good understanding with his teammates, he has taken to life at Albirex like a duck to water with two goals and three assists.

His impressive performances have not gone unnoticed, having made the SPL Team of the Week for three straight weeks and the 22-year-old will be eager to continue impressing.

Warriors midfielder Ammirul
: “I’m thankful to the coaches and management for the belief they have shown in me since I joined the club. I have learnt a lot while playing most of the matches so far alongside the more experienced players in the team.

“As a young player, I’m expected to do more and I feel I have a lot to work on and I want to contribute to the team to the best of my abilities. I just finished my National Service (NS) recently so I have no excuses but to train harder and give my 100 per cent when given the chance.”

Albirex midfielder Morinaga: “I feel that we can still link our attacks better, like having a variation of attacks from the wings or down in the middle of the park to get more chances.

“It is also important that we focus on our own game play. We will do our best to take the three points to continue our good run. The next three games will be away from home for us and even though it’s tough, it is still important and we are raring to go.”

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