Singapore Premier League • October 30, 2014
Warriors In Search Of First Title Since 2009
Warriors FC vs Albirex Niigata (S)
(October 31, Friday, 7.30pm, Choa Chu Kang Stadium)
Written by: Phoon Jia Hui
Warriors FC face Albirex Niigata (S) in their final game of the season at Choa Chu Kang Stadium on Friday evening, where they will be going all out in search for all three points while praying hard Brunei DPMM slip up against Tampines Rovers in another match played simultaneously.
That will see Alex Weaver’s side crowned Great Eastern Yeo’s S.League champions on the final day of the season, their first title since 2009.
Even if the Warriors fail to win the title, they already have a spot in the AFC Cup Qualifying playoff secured on virtue of finishing as the highest ranked local team in this year’s S.League while a place in the AFC Champions League Qualifying playoff awaits if they manage to win the championship.
The eight-time league champions currently sit second, level on points with DPMM (50) but still trail by a whopping 17 goal difference heading into this game.
Albirex on the other hand, fell 1-0 at home to DPMM on Tuesday and officially dropped out of the title race as a consequence but they still have a say in deciding which team lifts the trophy this season.
Warriors have been on a resurgence this season under Weaver and this has reflected in their league position with the likes of Hassan Sunny and Nicholas Velez playing key roles.
Albirex meanwhile, have conducted themselves well throughout as they have always done in previous seasons and they will want to play party poopers while trying to match their third-placed finish from the last two seasons.
Disciplined as an unit, the White Swans also possess attacking flair. Top scorer Kazuki Sakamoto is expected to lead the line once again with Kazuya Okazaki and Kento Nagasaki in support and they will be vital in Albirex’s chances of emerging victorious.
Key Men To Watch
Warriors FC: Nicholas Velez
With Rodrigo Tosi drawing a blank against Albirex in DPMM’s last game, Velez will have a chance to catch up with the Brazilian in the goalscoring charts.
The 24-year-old has netted 21 times this season, just two fewer than Tosi and the Argentine will be looking to add a goal or two against an Albirex side who have the second-worst defensive record in Tier One with 39 conceded and finish the season on a positive note.
Albirex Niigata (S): Itsuki Yamada
Against a rampant Warriors attack consisting of Velez and Miroslav Pejic, Yamada will have to be on his toes throughout to try deny their opponents victory.
The Albirex skipper was a steady presence on the left side of defence for the White Swans in their defeat to DPMM, as he nearly got onto the scoresheet. His cultured left foot can also cause some problems, something Warriors have to be wary of.
Warriors FC – WWWLW
23/10/14 Warriors FC 2-1 Tampines Rovers
17/10/14 Home United 2-3 Warriors FC
7/10/14 Brunei DPMM 2-3 Warriors FC
1/10/14 Warriors FC 0-1 Balestier Khalsa
29/8/14 Warriors FC 2-0 Tampines Rovers
Albirex Niigata (S) – LWLDW
28/10/14 Albirex Niigata (S) 0-1 Brunei DPMM
24/10/14 Albirex Niigata (S) 2-1 Home United
6/10/14 Balestier Khalsa 2-0 Albirex Niigata (S)
17/9/14 Tampines Rovers 0-0 Albirex Niigata (S)
28/8/14 Geylang International 3-4 Albirex Niigata (S)
Head to Head (S.League)
1/8/14 Warriors FC 1-3 Albirex Niigata (S)
16/4/14 Albirex Niigata (S) 0-4 Warriors FC
20/9/13 Albirex Niigata (S) 1-3 Warriors FC
10/5/13 Warriors FC 2-3 Albirex Niigata (S)
17/6/12 Warriors FC 3-4 Albirex Niigata (S)
10/2/12 Albirex Niigata (S) 3-2 Warriors FC
28/11/11 Albirex Niigata (S) 1-0 Warriors FC
13/7/11 Warriors FC 2-1 Albirex Niigata (S)
28/4/11 Albirex Niigata (S) 6-3 Warriors FC