News • August 10, 2016

White Swans Out To Revive Title Aspirations


Written by: Ryan Low

Albirex Niigata (S) vs Garena Young Lions

(Thursday, 11 Aug, 7.30pm, Jurong East Stadium)

Title hopefuls Albirex Niigata (S) will be looking to bounce back from two consecutive league losses when they host Garena Young Lions at the Jurong East Stadium on Thursday night.

At one point of the season, Albirex were 10 points clear of the chasing pack and it looked like no one is capable of catching up. Then came Tampines Rovers who kept plugging away under Akbar Nawas and they are now just a point behind the White Swans.

After nine straight wins, Naoki Naruo’s men have gone down to successive defeats to Tampines and Brunei DPMM – a worrying sign at this crucial stage of the season with just seven matches left.

Thus the Japanese outfit ought to rediscover their form as soon as possible, or risk being overtaken by Tampines and possibly missing out on a first-ever Great Eastern-Yeo’s S.League title.

They were uncharacteristically error-prone in last week’s 2-1 defeat to DPMM in Bandar Seri Begawan.

First it was a slack Masaya Jitozono back-pass that led to goalkeeper Yosuke Nozawa conceding a penalty which Rafael Ramazotti converted, then their defence failed to deal with a routine set piece which resulted in Yura Indera Putera tapping home a last-gasp winner.

A similar defensive display could be disastrous against a Young Lions side, who have plenty of rapid attackers in their ranks despite their lowly position.

It is at the other end where Patrick Hesse’s boys are having problems. The 3-1 defeat to Balestier Khalsa a week ago came from their perennial inability to keep out goals in the first 15 minutes of the game.

By the 25th minute of that game, they were already three goals down and left them with a mountain too high to climb.

It was a similar storyline in their two prior meetings with Albirex this season. Twice they had conceded early – leading to a 5-0 defeat at Jalan Besar and a 3-0 loss at Jurong East.

Possibly without the services of Khairul Amri and Firdaus Kasman again due to injuries, the Young Lions will be facing a real baptism of fire.

Albirex have won nine out of nine at Jurong East in all competitions this season and are poised to extend the run to double figures.

Suspensions: Amirul Adli, Gareth Low (Garena Young Lions)

Albirex Niigata (S) – WWWWL

05/08/16   Brunei DPMM 2-1 Albirex Niigata (S) (S.League)

30/07/16   Brunei DPMM 0-2 Albirex Niigata (S) (League Cup)

26/07/16   Albirex Niigata (S) 4-0 Tampines Rovers (League Cup)

22/07/16  Geylang International 1-0 Albirex Niigata (S) (League Cup)

18/07/16  Albirex Niigata (S) 2-0 Balestier Khalsa (League Cup)

Garena Young Lions – LDLDL

05/08/16  Garena Young Lions 1-3 Balestier Khalsa (S.League)

19/06/16  Garena Young Lions 1-1 Brunei DPMM (S.League)

14/06/16  Tampines Rovers 6-1 Garena Young Lions (S.League)

11/06/16  Garena Young LIons 2-2 Home United (S.League)

29/05/16  Ceres La Salle 3-1 Garena Young Lions (Singapore Cup)

Head to Head (S.League)

28/04/16  Albirex Niigata (S) 3-0 Garena Young Lions

20/02/16  Garena Young Lions 0-5 Albirex Niigata (S)

02/11/15  Albirex Niigata (S) 0-1 Courts Young Lions

06/08/15  Courts Young Lions 0-1 Albirex Niigata (S)

15/04/15   Albirex Niigata (S) 2-0 Courts Young Lions