Yoshinaga Calls For Focus Ahead Of Warriors Test
Albirex Niigata (S) vs Warriors FC
(3 November, Friday, 7.30pm, Jalan Besar Stadium)
Written by: Phoon Jia Hui
Despite being on the verge of a successful Great Eastern-Hyundai S.League title defence, Albirex Niigata (S) head coach Kazuaki Yoshinaga has warned they cannot afford to rest on their laurels as they face Warriors FC at Jalan Besar Stadium on Friday night.
Following their 3-0 win over Balestier Khalsa, the Japanese outfit currently have a six-point lead over second-placed Tampines Rovers and a draw will in fact be enough for Albirex to sew up the title.
They will go on 57 points while a Tampines victory over Brunei DPMM on the same day will put the Stags on 53 going into the final day of the season.
“I don’t think the title is 100% confirmed yet because we still have two games left and a target of 60 points (to hit),” said the 49-year-old.
“But I’m confident we can reach that point tally. My job as a head coach is to make sure the players work hard until the very last game of the season and that they improve. So I will continue to work towards that.”
The former Ventforet Kofu coach was however displeased with his charges’ performance in their victory over the Tigers.
“Many of my players are first year professional players who want to be pro players for a long time but they didn’t play well, which is unacceptable to my standards,” he lamented.
“There was many misplaced passes and we couldn’t up the tempo when we wanted to. Even though we scored the goals, I was not satisfied.
“If they want to continue to be professional players, they have to put in more effort.”
With the RHB Singapore Cup final against Philippine side Global Cebu coming up at the end of the month, Yoshinaga has called on his players to prove their worth.
“The Singapore Cup final will be after we play Warriors and Geylang (International), so the players have to perform to my expectations before they can think about getting a place in the final,” he said.
“I’m sure everyone wants to play in the final but if i’m not satisfied, then their place in the final will be affected.
“We need to maintain the standard of football in the S.League so it’s important the players put in their maximum effort in every game.”
With a chance to play party-poopers, Warriors head coach Razif Onn has meanwhile insisted that his side’s priority is to get the three points.
“We play to win, regardless of our opponent,” he said. “We are not doing anyone a favour but if we win then it’s good for Tampines (who still have a chance of winning the title).”
The nine-time league champions kept their top four alives with a narrow 2-1 win over Home United 2-1 in their last match as winger Suria Prakash scored the all-important goal in what was his first start of the season.
“Albirex are not going to be easy to play, no doubt. But we showed that we can compete against them in the League Cup final,” noted Razif.
“After this game we play Hougang (United), where we will keep fighting for fourth spot. If we played like how we played in the first half against Home, we should not have many problems.
“I’m not sure how Geylang will do against Albirex, but they also want to finish fourth and we will not give up.”
Albirex Niigata (S) - DWWWW
26/10/17 Balestier Khalsa 0-3 Albirex Niigata (S)
19/10/17 Albirex Niigata (S) 1-0 Hougang United
30/09/17 Home United 1-2 Albirex Niigata (S)
27/09/17 Albirex Niigata (S) 3-1 Home United
19/09/17 Home United 1-1 Albirex Niigata (S)
Warriors FC - LDLLW
27/10/17 Warriors FC 2-1 Home United
21/10/17 Brunei DPMM 3-2 Warriors FC
14/10/17 Warriors FC 0-1 Garena Young Lions
20/09/17 Tampines Rovers 1-1 Warriors FC
15/09/17 Warriors FC 0-2 Geylang International
Head to Head (S.League)
29/07/17 Warriors FC 1-2 Albirex Niigata (S)
29/04/17 Albirex Niigata (S) 4-2 Warriors FC
30/09/16 Warriors FC 2-0 Albirex Niigata (S)
10/06/16 Albirex Niigata (S) 3-2 Warriors FC
18/03/16 Warriors FC 2-0 Albirex Niigata (S)