RHB Singapore Cup 2017: Global In The Way Of Albirex Dominance
RHB Singapore Cup 2017 Final
Albirex Niigata (S) vs Global Cebu FC (PHI)
(25 November, Saturday, 8pm, Jalan Besar Stadium)
Written by: Phoon Jia Hui
Global Cebu FC head coach Akbar Nawas is eyeing revenge over Albirex Niigata (S) as he prepares his team for their first-ever RHB Singapore Cup final at Jalan Besar Stadium on Saturday night.
In 2016, Akbar was at helm of a Tampines Rovers side which fell 2-0 to the White Swans in the final of the Singapore Cup. In addition, the Stags were pipped to the Great Eastern-Hyundai S.League title by the same team as they lost by just one point.
Thus, the Singaporean tactician is keen to put one over Albirex as he aims to prevent the all-conquering White Swans from completing a clean sweep of trophies for a second year running.
“It’s a good feeling to fly the Singapore flag in a Singapore Cup final where there are no local representatives,” said Akbar, who turns 42 next Tuesday.
“I definitely feel some weight on my shoulders being a Singaporean to lead a Philippine team because look, ‘Maybe I can stop Albirex from winning everything in local football’.
“Last year I had the chance to stop them, both in the league and the Singapore Cup. Amazingly, I have a chance to do the same but with a different team from a different country this time round so I’m up for the challenge and that motivates me to do well.
“Hopefully I can get the result that I wanted to last year. Personally, it’s an achievement for me under different circumstances and obviously I want to get a result over them, for sure.”
With this being the Philippine’s side first appearance in the Cup final, Akbar is hopeful of a good showing.
The People’s Club saw off the challenges of Geylang International, Cambodia’s Boeung Ket FC and Hougang United en route to reaching the final of the competition.
"It's a historic moment for us to be in the Cup final for the first time and all of us are looking forward to this game,” he enthused.
“Despite the circumstances that we are in, we are not going to go out there to go through the motions but to go out there and give it a go.
“We do have a game plan but we have to be realistic. I don’t have a full team with me and it would be a different story if I had. But it’s not a lost cause because we can still come up with something and hopefully the result goes our way and we make it in the end.
“We have been struggling a lot with many problems to our team, but credit has to be given to the players.
Albirex are meanwhile looking to defend their Singapore Cup crown, having already sealed the Community Shield, The New Paper League Cup and the S.League this season.
Head coach Kazuaki Yoshinaga however wants to win this as a team representing the S.League, rather than being a foreign side.
“We have been in the S.League long enough to feel like a local team ourselves and we want to win as the representative of the S.League,” the former Shimizu S-Pulse coach asserted.
“We have beaten two local S.League teams (Tampines and Home) so we would like to fight the final with responsibility - as the only team representing the S.League, and for all our fans.”
When asked if his team were favourites, Yoshinaga was quick to play down that notion.
“I am not in a position to comment about the other team but we always focus only do what we have to do to achieve our goals,” said the 49-year-old.
“We will just work hard and do our best to beat Global.”
Suspensions: Takuya Akiyama (Albirex Niigata (S)); Paul Mulders, Dennis Villanueva (Global Cebu FC)
Albirex Niigata (S) - WWWWW
17/11/17 Geylang International 2-7 Albirex Niigata (S)
03/11/17 Albirex Niigata (S) 5-1 Warriors FC
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) (RHB Singapore Cup)
Global Cebu FC - LWWDL
19/11/17 Global Cebu FC 1-2 FC Meralco Manila
15/11/17 Ilocos United 3-3 Global Cebu FC
02/11/17 Global Cebu FC 4-3 Stallion Laguna FC
29/10/17 Global Cebu FC 3-2 Ilocos United
21/10/17 Kaya FC-Makati 2-0 Global Cebu FC