White Swans Eye Perfect Home Record
Albirex Niigata (S) vs Hougang United
(19 October, Thursday, 7.30pm, Jurong East Stadium)
Written by: Phoon Jia Hui
Albirex Niigata (S) will resume their Great Eastern-Hyundai S.League title charge when they host Hougang United at Jurong East Stadium on Thursday night.
As things stand, the White Swans have 50 points from 20 games. That is six points more than second-placed Tampines Rovers and 10 points more than Home United who have played two games fewer.
In what is their final home game of the season, Albirex can make it 27 straight wins in all competitions at Jurong East should they emerge victorious. Their last defeat there came in a 1-0 reverse against Tampines Rovers in November 2015.
Kazuaki Yoshinaga is however refusing to entertain the notion that his side have already sealed the title with four games to go.
“I do not think the title is ours yet,” said the Albirex head coach.
“I know the football is round and anything can happen. I will only consider doing my best until all the matches are over.
“We are targeting to end the season with 60 points, to score 60 goals and concede only 14 goals.”
With their last match coming on September 30 against Home United in the second leg of their RHB Singapore Cup semi-final, Albirex have been maintaining their match fitness by arranging friendly matches during the break.
“Preparation has gone well and we are ready for this match,” Yoshinaga said.
“We have to prepare carefully because the opponent is a team led by a head coach with excellent tactics and we have to be careful.”
Having won only once in three meetings against the Cheetahs this season, Albirex’s record against their opponents on Thursday night has been less-than-ideal but Yoshinaga is unfazed.
“I am not particularly worried because the players have improved and grown throughout the season and I believe the boys will give their all for the win,” he added.
Hougang meanwhile, will be looking to snap a four-match winless run in all competitions and finish the season strongly.
Their last match saw them fall 2-0 to Home just four days ago and head coach Philippe Aw is keen to see his side cut out on the errors they made.
“All it took was a goal from a corner that changed the game, it was the same thing when Home visited us earlier in April. Generally, I don’t think we were outplayed,” he noted.
“We wanted to be defensively sound, defend with numbers and make things difficult for Home. It’s disappointing that the goal came in that manner, through a long ball behind our defence from which we conceded a corner.
With four matches left to play, Aw believes a fourth-placed finish is still attainable for the side from the northeast.
“We still want to aim for fourth and it’s still possible,” he said.
“We’re four points behind Warriors and Geylang, with some tough matches coming up. But we’re going into each game trying to win.”
Albirex Niigata (S) - WWDWW
30/09/17 Home United 1-2 Albirex Niigata (S) (RHB Singapore Cup)
27/09/17 Albirex Niigata (S) 3-1 Home United (RHB Singapore Cup)
19/09/17 Home United 1-1 Albirex Niigata (S)
16/09/17 Brunei DPMM 0-1 Albirex Niigata (S)
08/09/17 Garena Young Lions 0-1 Albirex Niigata (S)
Hougang United - WLDLL
15/10/17 Hougang United 0-2 Home United
30/09/17 Hougang United 1-2 Global Cebu FC (RHB Singapore Cup)
27/09/17 Global Cebu FC 2-2 Hougang United (RHB Singapore Cup)
23/09/17 Hougang United 1-2 Brunei DPMM
19/09/17 Brunei DPMM 1-4 Hougang United
Head to Head (S.League)
03/07/17 Hougang United 2-1 Albirex Niigata (S)
14/04/17 Albirex Niigata (S) 2-0 Hougang United
14/10/16 Albirex Niigata (S) 3-0 Hougang United
15/06/16 Hougang United 1-2 Albirex Niigata (S)
02/04/16 Albirex Niigata (S) 2-0 Hougang United