Tigers Hopeful Of Halting High-Flying White Swans
Balestier Khalsa vs Albirex Niigata (S)
(Friday, 21 April, 7.30pm, Jalan Besar Stadium)
Written by: Phoon Jia Hui
Having notched two straight wins in the 2017 Great Eastern-Hyundai S.League, Balestier Khalsa will take on an unbeaten Albirex Niigata (S) at the Jalan Besar Stadium on Friday night.
The Tigers were victorious in their last two games, edging Garena Young Lions 1-0 before coming from behind to beat Brunei DPMM the last time out.
They will now go in search of their third league win on the trot, but standing in their way is a White Swans side who have not lost after five matches played so far.
And Balestier head coach Marko Kraljevic believes it is through hard work that his team can nick a point or even a win.
“We are going to have to work extremely hard,” he said.
“If we want to come up with a good result, we need to give more than 100% - maybe even 120%. We need to give more and I think we can do it.”
Echoing Kraljevic’s sentiments, Balestier skipper Zaiful Nizam said: “Albirex are not going to be an easy team. i saw them play against Hougang and they are difficult to penetrate.
“We are disciplined enough and we follow the coach’s gameplan, I’m sure we can get a good result.”
He however insists the team cannot rest on their laurels despite having picked up maximum points from their last two matches.
“The two wins is still not enough for us,” said the Singapore international. “We need more results like this; more wins actually, so as to keep up with the top half of the table.
“We still need to work hard and the players need to remain grounded. They cannot think that after winning two games straight, they are already up there and feel that they are above the rest.”
Agreeing that this game could be their toughest yet, Kraljevic feels the artificial surface at Jalan Besar is likely to give Kazuaki Yoshinaga’s men the edge over his side.
“Playing at Jalan Besar will give Albirex some advantage because they train almost everyday on an artificial pitch (at the Jurong East Stadium),” he noted.
“They know how the ball moves and bounces and they can move the ball around very quickly. It will be a tough game but hopefully we can work hard and come up with a good result.”
Albirex beat Hougang United 2-0 in their last game courtesy of a brace from Tsubasa Sano and Kraljevic has identified the forward as one to watch out for.
“In their last game, they scored two goals from two crosses,” said the Croat. “We need to stop the crosses. If we cannot stop the crosses, we need to stop the strikers.
“We have to mark tightly their number 7 (Ryota Nakai) and number 9 (Sano). This will be the key - if we can stop them, I think we can come up with a good result.”
The Tigers will welcome back Sheikh Abdul Hadi after the defender sat out the last two due to suspension, and it will be a welcome boost for the Toa Payoh-based outfit.
“We are struggling upfront where we don’t have a natural striker, unlike Albirex and Home United who have a striker. We are still finding out who is the best in this position - this is our main problem,” admitted Kraljevic.
“Other than that, the defending is not bad. Our goalkeeper and back four are now doing well. We’ve only conceded one goal from two games. That’s not bad, it shows that we are defending very well. If we can keep clean sheet that will be great.
“It will be tough but we will not give up.”
Balestier Khalsa - LLLWW
07/04/17 Balestier Khalsa 2-1 Brunei DPMM
02/04/17 Balestier Khalsa 1-0 Garena Young Lions
11/03/17 Balestier Khalsa 0-1 Tampines Rovers
04/03/17 Geylang International 2-0 Balestier Khalsa
28/02/17 Balestier Khalsa 1-2 Warriors FC
Albirex Niigata (S) - WWWDW
14/04/17 Albirex Niigata (S) 2-0 Hougang United
01/04/17 Home United 2-2 Albirex Niigata (S)
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
Head to Head (S.League)
19/08/16 Balestier Khalsa 0-1 Albirex Niigata (S)
06/05/16 Albirex Niigata (S) 6-0 Balestier Khalsa
27/02/16 Balestier Khalsa 1-1 Albirex Niigata (S)
16/10/15 Balestier Khalsa 1-0 Albirex Niigata (S)
23/07/15 Albirex Niigata (S) 0-1 Balestier Khalsa