Singapore Premier League • June 22, 2014

White Swans Entertain Aide’s Young Lions


Albirex Niigata (S) vs Courts Young Lions

(June 22, Sunday, 7.30pm, Jurong East Stadium)

Written by: Phoon Jia Hui

Courts Young Lions pay a visit to Jurong East Stadium as they take on Albirex Niigata (S) on Sunday evening, in hope of putting a dent to their opponents’ title hopes.

After their slender 2-1 win over Tanjong Pagar in their last game, the White Swans are currently in fifth and trail Great Eastern Yeo’s S.League leaders Brunei DPMM by five points. Hence, they will be looking for three points to keep pace at the top.

Kento Nagasaki and Keisuke Ota were both on target against the Jaguars as they rendered Monsef Zerka’s strike a consolation in the process.

Albirex have pounced on the mid-season transfer window to sign their former defender Norihiro Kawakami from reigning champions Tampines Rovers in a bid to shore up their defence.

Kawakami’s addition will also allow Shuhei Hotta to return to his spot in the heart of midfield. The aforementioned duo not only provides much-needed leadership to coach Tatsuyuki Okuyama’s youthful set-up but also stability and experienced legs.

But the White Swans have to be on their toes against Aide Iskandar’s developmental side. The Young Lions may not be in the top half of the table, but their players have a never-say-die attitude and give their opponents a run for their money.

In their last game, they gave DPMM a scare as they levelled the scores with five minutes remaining, only to concede a last-minute goal to find themselves on the end of a 3-2 defeat.

Led by starlet Sahil Suhaimi, Young Lions do however have the ability to spring up surprises. They defied critics when they snatched a 3-0 win over Hougang United and played out a 1-1 draw against Home United earlier in the season.

Mentoring the young players in Young Lions will be midfield wizard Jordan Webb and ex-Canadian Under-23 international Sherif El-Masri.

At the back, Aide will be looking towards defenders Delwinder Singh and Al-Qaasimy Rahman to keep things tight at the back and prevent Albirex striker Kazuki Sakamoto from adding to his 14 goal tally so far.

Revenge will certainly be on the minds of the Young Lions side after they lost 2-1 in the reverse fixture. On that note, if they can play to their true potential, there is a chance they could pick up a point at least from this encounter.

Key Men To Watch

Albirex Niigata (S): Shuhei Hotta

While his other teammates have been earning plaudits for their goalscoring feats, Hotta has been quietly doing the work behind the scenes by keeping things tight at the back.

With an eye for a pass, the midfielder who is equally adept playing at the back is dangerous from set-pieces as well with his aerial prowess and he is another man Young Lions will have to be wary of.

Courts Young Lions: Sahil Suhaimi

Touted as the next big thing in Singapore football, Sahil certainly has it in him that would see him go far.

Sahil not only has the ability to beat his man and hold the ball, he also is capable of shooting from distance and has already bailed his team out on several occasions this season.

He has also demonstrated season-long that he has the potential to lead having been trusted with the captain’s armband on occasions.

Albirex Niigata (S) – WWDLW

18/6/14   Tanjong Pagar United 1-2 Albirex Niigata (S)

11/6/14   Albirex Niigata (S) 7-1 Woodlands Wellington

8/6/14     Balestier Khalsa 1-1 Albirex Niigata (S)

5/6/14     Albirex Niigata (S) 0-1 Hougang United

28/5/14   Svay Rieng FC 0-3 Albirex Niigata (S) (RHB Singapore Cup)

Courts Young Lions – LLDLL

18/6/14   Courts Young Lions 2-3 Brunei DPMM

12/6/14   Tanjong Pagar United 3-0 Courts Young Lions

9/6/14     Courts Young Lions 0-0 Geylang International

23/5/14   Courts Young Lions 1-2 Tampines Rovers

15/5/14   Balestier Khalsa 3-1 Courts Young Lions

Head to Head (S.League)

10/4/14   Courts Young Lions 1-2 Albirex Niigata (S)

5/7/13     Albirex Niigata (S) 1-1 Courts Young Lions

20/3/13   Courts Young Lions 0-1 Albirex Niigata (S)

27/10/12 Albirex Niigata (S) 2-2 Courts Young Lions

6/5/12      Courts Young Lions 1-1 Albirex Niigata (S)

14/9/11    Courts Young Lions 1-1 Albirex Niigata (S)

31/5/11    Albirex Niigata (S) 4-2 Courts Young Lions

26/3/11    Courts Young Lions 0-5 Albirex Niigata (S)