News • February 20, 2016

Young Lions Eager To Stop High Flying White Swans


Written by: Shawn Lim

Garena Young Lions vs Albirex Niigata (S)
(Saturday, 20 February, 7.30pm, Jalan Besar Stadium)

Fresh off a shocking 1-0 win in their opening game of the 2016 Great Eastern Yeo’s S.League season against Balestier Khalsa, the Garena Young Lions are hoping to cause another upset on Saturday night.

The Young Lions will host 2015 RHB Singapore Cup and The New Paper League Cup winner Albirex Niigata (S) at Jalan Besar Stadium and are looking to prove that their result against the Tigers was not a fluke.

Coach Patrick Hesse, who has officially taken over the reigns of the team from his countryman Richard Tardy after his work permit was approved, has expressed his delight with the squad that he has inherited.

Speaking to the official S.League website on the sidelines of a Young Lions training session at Geylang Field, Hesse said: “I have been here for a month and all is good, but I only started taking the training on Monday because I was waiting for my EP to be ready.

“I have an idea of how the players train and play, because I saw all their friendly games and their training sessions as well.

“I think they are good players who are have good technical skills. But we have to work more tactically and on our athleticism because it is difficult to have a full squad at one time, as the guys either have school or National Service commitments.

“I was in the stands for the match against Balestier and I was very happy for the team because they gave a lot of fight, so it was a nice victory in the end.”

Hesse also confirmed that he will continue to use the possession-based attacking football that Tardy introduced to the team, which coincidentally, is also a style he personally prefers.

“I like to have the ball and I like to use the flanks as well, because 40% of goals come from crosses,” said the former assistant coach for Mali and Tunisia.

“For me, it is very important for me that we can attack and defend the flanks so that the opponent cannot take advantage of us.

It therefore comes as no surprise that Hesse’s favourite team to watch in the S.League is his next opponent, as they employ a 3-4-3 formation with wing-backs rampaging down the flanks that help them beat DPMM with ease.

“I first watched Albirex when they play against us in a friendly match and I watched them again in a training session. I was really impressed with them,” said Hesse.

“I then watched them play Brunei (DPMM) and I thought it was a very good game..very speedy game with very good players.

“They are a very good team, very technical..they attack and defend in numbers. They have a very strong midfield as well.

“Their players cover a huge amount of distance in every match, so we have to stay compact to prevent them from exploiting any space in our midfield and defence.”

Khairul Amri, Shannon Stephen and Zakir Samsudin will miss the game again as they continue their rehabilitation from injuries, while Marcus Wheeler and Muhaimin Suhaimi picked up injuries in the match against Balestier and are doubtful for the game.

Zharfan Rohaizad, who was the only goalkeeper who kept a clean sheet in Week 1, has recovered from the head injury he suffered against Balestier, but might make way for new signing Benjamin Bertrand.

In the meantime, the White Swans will be keen to continue their winning momentum and solidify their position at the top of the table after their closest title rivals all dropped points over the weekend.

As pointed out above, new coach Naoki Naruo has set his team up in a very attacking formation, which is looking like the solution for the White Swans’ troubles in front of goal last year.

Handing the captain’s armband to Kento Nagasaki is also turning out to be a shrewd move, as the midfielder has played a starring role for the club this season, after being forced to warm the bench last year.

However, Nauro will have to make do without the services of Kento Fujihara and Mikiya Yamada after they both picked up knocks in the match against DPMM, and they will join the likes of Tatsuro Inui and Tomoki Menda on the treatment table.

Key Man to Watch

Garena Young Lions: Firdaus Kasman

Handed the captain’s armband in the absence of Amri, Firdaus stepped up and lead by example as he helped his younger teammates to settle down into the game. He even played a part in the Young Lions’ goal, as it was he who started off the build-up play.

Firdaus will have to take control of the midfield again if the Young Lions wants to stop the White Swans from dominating the game.

Albirex Niigata (S): Kento Nagasaki


Playing like a man with a point to prove, Nagasaki not only dominated the middle of the park against DPMM, but also created two of his side’s three goals.

If the 25-year-old playmaker can keep up his performance, then the loss of 2015 Player of the Year Fumiya Kogure will be a distant memory for the White Swans.

Garena Young Lions – DWDLW

14/02/16  Garena Young Lions 1-0 Balestier Khalsa (S.League)
15/11/15  Home United 2-1 Courts Young Lions (S.League)
06/11/15  Courts Young Lions 2-2 Geylang International (S.League)
02/11/15  Albirex Niigata (S) 0-1 Courts Young Lions (S.League)
27/10/15  Courts Young Lions 1-1 Harimau Muda (S.League)

Albirex Niigata (S) – WLWWW

13/02/16  Albirex Niigata (S) 3-2 Brunei DPMM (S.League)
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)

Head to Head (S.League)

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
22/06/14  Albirex Niigata (S) 4-2 Courts Young Lions
10/04/14  Courts Young Lions 1-2 Albirex Niigata (S)