Selvaraj Backs Young Lions To Come Good
Garena Young Lions vs Albirex Niigata (S)
(Saturday, 4 March, 7.30pm, Jalan Besar Stadium)
Written by: Phoon Jia Hui
After a defeat to Home United in their 2017 Great Eastern-Hyundai S.League opening match, Garena Young Lions’ coach V.Selvaraj is hoping for an improved performance against defending champions Albirex Niigata (S) at the Jalan Besar Stadium on Saturday night.
The developmental side put up a spirited showing but the Protectors proved too strong as new signing Stipe Plazibat bagged four goals to help the Bishan-based side to victory.
The result against Home may have been a bitter pill to swallow, but Selvaraj believes it is still early days and is optimistic things will soon fall into place for his young charges.
“I think the bunch of boys I have are eager to learn. They look forward to the next training session or match,” said the 48-year-old.
“Game by game, they are going to see a lot of weaknesses and they have to work on them to get stronger and better. These boys are still young - the average age of the squad this year is much younger than last year.
“They have this desire to learn and they will see a lot of improvement but i don’t think it's going to end up like it was in the last two or three years, added Selvaraj.
There were also positives the Young Lions could take away from that encounter.
Midfielder Yeo Hai Ngee made his first start in the Great Eastern-Hyundai S.League and did a decent job down the left flank, while Zulqarnaen Suzliman came off the bench at half-time to net the Young Lions’ only goal of the game with an acrobatic effort.
With an average age of 19.94 this year, Selvaraj has admitted that the Young Lions will be given a baptism of fire but is convinced it can only get better from here.
“To us every game is going to be a battle,” he said.
“The other teams (in the league) will have quality players so we can only look at it one game at a time, set objectives and practice during training sessions and try to carry out in games.
“We should not be affected too much about the result. As we work on weaknesses, (we should) continue to working harder and I think soon results will go our way and we can achieve what we want in every match.”
Albirex on the other hand, will look to make it two wins in as many games after coming from behind to defeat Tampines Rovers 2-1 in the Great Eastern Community Shield, which doubled up as a league opener, on Sunday night.
The White Swans were trailing to a Ryutaro Megumi first-half strike, but Shoichiro Sakamoto played the part of a super-sub as he came off the bench in the second-half to seal all three points with a brace in the space of eight minutes.
Albirex coach Kazuaki Yoshinaga will continue to miss the services of 24-year-old defender Tomoki Menda who serves the second of his two-match suspension carried over from last season.
Suspension: Tomoki Menda (Albirex Niigata (S))
Garena Young Lions - LLLLL
27/02/17 Home United 6-1 Garena Young Lions
15/10/16 Garena Young Lions 1-3 Tampines Rovers
30/09/16 Home United 5-2 Garena Young Lions
26/09/16 Brunei DPMM 5-3 Garena Young Lions
23/09/16 Garena Young Lions 0-2 Hougang United
Albirex Niigata (S) - WLLWW
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
20/10/16 Home United 3-1 Albirex Niigata (S)
14/10/16 Albirex Niigata (S) 3-0 Hougang United
Head to Head (S.League)
11/08/16 Albirex Niigata (S) 4-0 Garena Young Lions
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 Garena Young Lions
06/08/15 Garena Young Lions 0-1 Albirex Niigata (S)