News • February 12, 2016

Wasps Keen To Get Title Defence Off To Perfect Start


Albirex Niigata (S) vs Brunei DPMM
(Saturday, 13th February, 7.45pm, Jalan Besar Stadium)

The much-anticipated Great Eastern Yeo’s S.League 2016 will finally get underway on Saturday night when Albirex Niigata (S) take on Brunei DPMM in the 2016 Great Eastern Community Shield, previously known as Charity Shield, which will also count as their first league fixture for the season.

This will be the first chance both clubs have of winning a trophy this season and start their campaign on the right note after a successful season last year, where the White Swans won both the RHB Singapore Cup and The New Paper League Cup, while the Wasps clinched their first-ever S.League title.

While Albirex have made their annual sweeping changes to their squad, the Wasps have retained almost their entire championship-winning squad, except for Joseph Gamble and Boris Raspudic, who were both released due to the change in the league’s foreign players quota from five to three players.

The White Swans however, have retained key players like Atsushi Kawata, Kento Nagasaki, Rui Kumada and welcomed back Tatsuro Inui, who will take over the vacant playmaker role after 2015 S.League Player of the Year Fumiya Kogure left for Hougang United.

Kawata is set to lead the line for the Japanese side, who struggled to score goals last season, together with new signing Kazuki Mine, who stands at a towering 1.9m tall and will add a new dimension to the White Swans’ attack in the air.

Meanwhile, the Wasps have replaced Gamble and Raspudic with two local players, and will depend again on last season league top scorer Rafael Ramazotti and Paulo Sergio for goals upfront.

DPMM will look to 2015 Young Player of the Year Azwan Ali to take on a roaming playmaker role in midfield to support Ramazotti and Sergio, while towering centre-back Brian McLean will resume his place in the heart of the defence.

However, the Wasps will miss the services of Hendra Azam, Aminudin Zakwan and Amalul Ariffin Said after the trio failed to pass the mandatory 2.4km fitness test run and they will not be allowed to play in the match against the White Swans as a result.

DPMM captain Rosmin Kamis will also sit out the game as he is serving a suspension carried over from last season.

Based on their past five meetings, DPMM will be the favourites for the tie as they have emerged victors for three of the them, but the White Swans have proved that form goes out the window in cup competitions.

Suspended: Rosmin Kamis (DPMM)

Key Men To Watch

Albirex Niigata (S): Atsushi Kawata

The winger has stated his desire to lead the line upfront for the White Swans this season after he was played regularly in that role because of injuries to main striker Shotaro Ihata last season.

With the likes of Ihata, Kogure and Rion Taki gone, the 24-year-old will now get his chance to be the focal point of Albirex’s attack and he will need to prove that he is capable of doing so, with Mine eagerly waiting for his chance on the sidelines.

Kawata will also need to improve on his 11 goals last season if he wants to be the main striker for the White Swans.

Brunei DPMM: Rafael Ramazotti

The onus is on Ramazotti to prove that he can repeat his heroics from last season, where he plundered in 21 goals to become the league top-scorer.

The Wasps will also be keen for the Brazilian to quickly resume his electric partnership with Sergio, as both players accounted for 34 of DPMM’s 48 goals in the league last season.

If Ramazotti carries on from where left off last season, then Albirex’s defence will be busy throughout the night.

Albirex Niigata (S) – LWLWW

27/11/15  Albirex Niigata (S) 2-1 Home United (Singapore Cup)
20/11/15  Albirex Niigata (S) 1-0 Hougang United (S.League)
13/11/15  Albirex Niigata (S) 0-1 Tampines Rovers (S.League)
05/11/15  Home United 1-2 Albirex Niigata (S) (S.League)
02/11/15  Albirex Niigata (S) 0-1 Courts Young Lions (S.League)


27/11/15  Global FC 1-3 Brunei DPMM (Singapore Cup)
24/11/15  Home United 2-0 Brunei DPMM (Singapore Cup)
21/11/15  Brunei DPMM 4-0 Balestier Khalsa (S.League)
06/11/15  Warriors FC 1-3 Brunei DPMM (S.League)
03/11/15  Geylang International 2-1 Brunei DPMM (S.League)

Head to Head (S.League)

16/09/15  Albirex Niigata (S) 0-0 Brunei DPMM
14/05/15  Albirex Niigata (S) 2-1 Brunei DPMM
07/03/15  Brunei DPMM 1-0 Albirex Niigata (S)
28/10/14  Albirex Niigata (S) 0-1 Brunei DPMM
14/05/14  Brunei DPMM 2-1 Albirex Niigata (S)