News Singapore Premier League • August 10, 2018

Singapore Premier League Preview: Young Lions aim for third time lucky against Balestier


Balestier Khalsa stalwart Zaiful Nizam in action against Albirex Niigata FC (S).

SINGAPORE, 10 AUG 2018 – The Young Lions will have a chance to overtake Balestier Khalsa FC with victory this Sunday, 12 August, 5.30pm at Toa Payoh Stadium.

BACKGROUND In the 2016 and 2017 seasons combined, the Young Lions amassed a woeful three wins in total.

But there has been an upswing in fortunes for the national development side in this Great Eastern-Hyundai Singapore Premier League (SPL) campaign as they have five wins under their belt, with five more games to go.

Defender Prakash Raj believes it is time his team is given due credit, even though they do not have the luxury of having more experienced players.

“In football, any team is capable of winning,” he said. “We should not have the thinking that just because we (Young Lions) are the younger ones, with no experienced or foreign players, we will not be able to win as much as the other teams who have experienced, foreign and even national players.

“Of course, experience plays a big part for every footballer and that is where we have our coaches to guide us along the way. Fandi (Ahmad), Nazri (Nasir) and S. Subramani are all players with loads of experiences, with 100 or more caps for the national team.”

The Young Lions will come into the match after surprising second-placed Tampines Rovers FC 2-1 in their last game and Prakash is looking for them to keep on winning.

“It was a massive win for us because it’s been awhile since the Young Lions took all three points away from the mighty Stags,” he added.

“We’ve lost to them twice already this season and through those two matches, we learnt the style of play that they play. One of the keys to the victory was that we were all focused to achieve one thing in mind, which is to win.

“This winning mentality helped us not to give up from one goal down and we managed to come back and take the three important points too.

“This Sunday will be a very important one for us as we are on par with Balestier in terms of points and I believe we do want to win this badly and keep our momentum going.”

No change in team news for Balestier as Raihan Rahman, Khairuddin Omar and Sharin Majid still look to recover from their injuries.

It remains to be seen if Keegan Linderboom and Vedran Mesec are ready to play again too.

R. Aaravin will return from suspension for the Young Lions but Taufiq Muqminin is out, while Adam and Amer Hakeem are doubts.

Balestier: LDDDL
Young Lions: LWLLW

26/05/18: Young Lions 0-2 Balestier – Singapore Premier League
08/04/18: Balestier 3-1 Young Lions – Singapore Premier League
14/10/17: Young Lions 0-1 Balestier – Singapore Premier League
28/06/17: Young Lions 0-0 Balestier – Singapore Premier League
08/04/17: Balestier 1-0 Young Lions – Singapore Premier League

Fadli Kamis – Balestier
Defenders who can score goals are a rarity and Fadli is one. Able to operate on either side of defence, Fadli can be counted upon to plug in any gaps at the back. His ability to score from set pieces will also be a bonus for Balestier.

Zulqarnaen Suzliman – Young Lions
Despite injuries disrupting his season, Zulqarnaen has quietly but effectively made his mark. His ability to dictate play and spread the ball is evident, with three assists in the bag.

Balestier Captain Zaiful:
“We lost to Geylang but it wasn’t because we did not play well or attack. It was just unlucky we didn’t score the goals we needed and they scored from the free-kick after I had made the save.

“For sure, the Young Lions will be a bit more confident after the win over Tampines. But for young players, they can be inconsistent. The win was good for them and it will give them confidence that in football anything can happen. But we will take nothing for granted and work hard to beat them. It’s all about the hard work no matter who we play.

“Obviously we want to win and get the points. We want to get a good run for the final third of the season. We haven’t done as well as we have liked but the target is to win all the remaining games, one game at a time.”

Young Lions Defender Prakash Raj: “I believe that if we continue this form and have the correct mentality approaching this game, we will be able to do it and get the three points we want.

“We have some experienced players who have played in the SPL for quite a while and are there to help and guide us along the way too.

“The likes of Irfan and Ikhsan (Fandi), Zharfan (Rohaizad), Hami (Syahin), Rusyaidi (Salime), Syahrul (Sazali), Taufiq, Hairul (Syirhan), Aaravin and Joshua (Pereira), who are all experienced players for their age, it is enough to bolster the team spirit and to have a winning mentality easily, but the results do not come easily without hard work.

“In football, any team is capable of winning. Like what Coach Fandi tells us constantly, ‘the will must be stronger than the skill’.”

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