Singapore Premier League • April 19, 2018
Singapore Premier League Preview: Warriors seek elusive first win at home to Tampines
Warriors FC captain Kento Fukuda will be a key figure for the hosts in their quest for victory.
SINGAPORE, 19 APRIL 2018 – After being denied all three points late on against Hougang United FC in their last Great Eastern-Hyundai-Singapore Premier League (SPL) fixture, Warriors FC will host Tampines Rovers FC at Choa Chu Kang Stadium on Saturday evening, April 21. Kick-off is at 5.30pm.
BACKGROUND Two draws and one defeat from their first three games is hardly the kind of start Warriors would have wanted.
The string of poor results has seen the nine-time league champions slip down to seventh in the SPL standings as a first victory continues to elude them.
A 1-0 loss to the Young Lions was sandwiched by two 1-1 stalemates against Geylang International FC and Hougang, but Warriors midfielder Ho Wai Loon believes it is a matter of time before they rack up the wins again.
“It was really disappointing to get just a point (from two games) as we were really looking forward to get our first three points (of the season),” the 25-year-old admitted.
“Coach (Mirko Grabovac) has told us what went wrong (in the last few games) and we also spoke amongst ourselves about it. I can see the hunger in the team (to bounce back) and hopefully we get better game by game and return to winning ways soon.”
In contrast, the Stags are brimming with confidence after a 4-0 victory over Hougang on Wednesday night. They sit in second place, six points behind Albirex Niigata FC (S) who have 12 but have played a game more.
With the likes of Brunei DPMM FC, Young Lions and Balestier Khalsa FC breathing down their neck, a win here is imperative if they are to keep pace with Albirex.
Goalkeeper Syazwan Buhari has opted to remain cautious ahead of this tie even though the aim is to maintain the winning momentum.
“Warriors might not have won (a game) yet (this season) but we know they have the quality to cause trouble for us,” he said.
“It will be a totally different game (as compared to Hougang) as Warriors will be fresher of the two sides, but it is no excuse and we are looking forward to do our best to get the three points.”
It is worth noting that Tampines have the edge over Warriors, having lost just once in their past five encounters, and will be baying for blood again to close the gap at the top of the standings.
TEAM NEWS Forwards Jonathan Behe and Khairul Nizam remain sidelined due to injury for Warriors, while new signing Tajeli Salamat is likely to be handed another start following a decent debut against Hougang.
While Juergen Raab will continue to be without Shannon Stephen who tore his anterior cruciate ligaments, he will be boosted by the re-signing of Hafiz Sujad. The Singapore international could make his first appearance of the season should he receive clearance in time.
20/09/17: Tampines 1-1 Warriors – Singapore Premier League
22/06/17: Warriors 0-1 Tampines – Singapore Premier League
01/04/17: Tampines 0-1 Warriors – Singapore Premier League
12/08/16: Warriors 2-3 Tampines – Singapore Premier League
17/07/16: Warriors 0-3 Tampines – League Cup
KEEP AN EYE OUT FOR
Kento Fukuda – Warriors
The central defender – who is into his third year with the club – hardly puts a foot wrong and is a commanding presence at the back. The Japanese was immense against Hougang, impressing with his aerial prowess and sound reading of the game as he thwarted the Cheetahs time and time again.
He will have to turn in a similar performance if Warriors are to stand a chance against Khairul Amri and company.
Irfan Najeeb – Tampines
This is his first season as a professional, but the 19-year-old has not looked out of place lining up in a Tampines backline which comprises veterans Fahrudin Mustafic and Daniel Bennett.
Not afraid of playing out from the back, Irfan is also strong on the tackle and he was rewarded with his first goal against Song Lam Nghe An in an AFC Cup tie.
WHAT ELSE THEY SAID
Warriors midfielder Ho Wai Loon: “I agree they (Tampines) are tough opposition and I wouldn’t (want to) rate our chances of winning, but I just hope we put away any scoring opportunities (that come our way).
“Playing at home always has its advantages and it’s time we repay the unwavering support from our fans with a win here.”
Tampines goalkeeper Syazwan Buhari: “We hope to win as many games as we can but we have to take it one at a time. The morale and confidence in the team is good and I think our team is ready to take on anyone in the league right now, although it’s important not to be too overconfident.
“We definitely want to prove our worth again and the only way to compete in the AFC Cup again is by winning the SPL or (RHB Singapore) Cup, which is our (main) target.”
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