White Swans And Protectors Fight For Top Spot
Home United vs Albirex Niigata (S)
(Saturday, 1 April, 7.30pm, Bishan Stadium)
Written by: Shawn Lim
A top of the table clash will take place on Saturday night when Home United host Great Eastern-Hyundai S.League defending champions Albirex Niigata (S) at the Bishan Stadium.
The two teams come into the game still unbeaten in the league after Stage 3, with the White Swans holding a three-point lead over the Protectors who have a game in hand.
While Home are eager to regain their place at the top of the table, they are aware that statistics do not favour them as they have only defeated Albirex once in their past five meetings.
However, Home’s Aqhari Abdullah believes that it will be a minor bump in their road to glory even if their perfect start to their season came to a grinding halt.
“If we were to lose on Saturday, it is not going to really affect our team morale because we have just played two games in the league,” the midfielder asserted.
“There is still a long way to go in the season and so many more games to play. Our team spirit is really good and even if we take a stumble against Albirex, we will definitely bounce back in the next game.”
Aqhari is adamant that the Protectors’ underdog status in this fixture will work well for them against the 2016 S.League winners.
“The pressure is certainly not on us. There will be more pressure for Albirex because they are the defending champions,” said Aqhari.
“Like I said, there are still so many more games to come but nonetheless every match we will try to get maximum points. If not a point will do.”
In addition, centre-back Abdil Qaiyyim is confident taking on Albirex at this stage of the season will work in Home’s favour, as the Japanese team is still gelling together as a team after undergoing massive personnel changes.
“This is the perfect time to play Albirex because their team has seen quite a number of changes, so it will take some time for them to gel,” said Abdil.
“Games against Albirex are always high in intensity and pressure will be on both teams to deliver their best football, which means it will be a good chance to see how they cope.”
While Albirex have a full squad to choose from, Home will have to assess the condition of national team players like Hassan Sunny, Irfan Fandi, Juma’at Jantan, Hariss Harun, Faris Ramli, and Izzdin Shafiq.
Faris might be a doubt after limping off with an ankle injury during Singapore’s 2-1 friendly loss to Afghanistan, while Hariss is set to make his first start for Home after joining on loan from Johor Darul Ta’zim.
Home United - WLWWW
14/03/17 Home United 3-2 Than Quang Ninh (AFC Cup)
03/03/17 Brunei DPMM 1-3 Home United
27/02/17 Home United 6-1 Garena Young Lions
22/02/17 Yadanarbon FC 1-0 Home United (AFC Cup)
07/02/17 Home United 3-0 Phnom Penh Crown (AFC Cup)
Albirex Niigata (S) - LWWWW
09/03/17 Albirex Niigata (S) 2-0 Brunei DPMM
04/03/17 Garena Young Lions 0-5 Albirex Niigata (S)
26/02/17 Albirex Niigata (S) 2-1 Tampines Rovers
29/10/16 Albirex Niigata (S) 2-0 Tampines Rovers (Singapore Cup)
26/10/16 Albirex Niigata (S) 1-5 Tampines Rovers
Head to Head (S.League)
20/10/16 Home United 3-1 Albirex Niigata (S)
18/06/16 Albirex Niigata (S) 5-2 Home United
08/04/16 Home United 0-3 Albirex Niigata (S)
05/11/15 Home United 1-2 Albirex Niigata (S)
20/08/15 Albirex Niigata (S) 0-0 Home United