High-Flying White Swans Wary Of Wasps
Brunei DPMM vs Albirex Niigata (S)
(16 September, Saturday, 8.15pm, Bandar Seri Begawan)
Written by: Phoon Jia Hui
Reigning Great Eastern-Hyundai S.League champions Albirex Niigata will be aiming for three points to continue their title charge when they travel to Bandar Seri Begawan to face Brunei DPMM on Saturday night.
The current league leaders eked out a narrow 1-0 win over Garena Young Lions the last time out, courtesy of a first-half strike from skipper Shuto Inaba.
They now sit pretty at the top of the standings with 46 points in 18 matches and are on course to surpass their point tally of 50 in 2016.
According to Inaba, the result from their previous outing has presented the team with a few lessons but has warned that it will be a different game against the 2015 S.League winners in their own backyard.
“We learnt a lot from last game,” the 24-year-old shared.
“They played very defensively, making it hard for us to break them down. We also lost an important player to a red card midway through so it was difficult.
“But we spoke to each other after the game and discussed what the problem was. I am confident that we will play better against DPMM.
“We were defeated (2-1) by them (DPMM) in Brunei last year and the atmosphere there is going to be different. Also, we are going to play in Brunei just a day after arriving so it will be tough for us.”
Brimming with confidence after winning their last 11 matches in all competitions, Inaba insists there is no secret behind that feat.
“The only reason why we can win so many games in a row is because we are never satisfied even when we get a good result,” he said.
“I will tell the rest of my teammates that winning so many games is not the ultimate goal for us; this is because every player has their respective goals in every match which they play in.”
The White Swans will however have to make do without hotshot Tsubasa Sano who will serve the first of his two-match ban after a straight red card against Young Lions, but Inaba believes they will cope in his absence.
“It doesn't matter whether he plays or not,” Inaba said of his teammate who has plundered 18 goals in the S.League so far. “We have had matches where Sano didn’t play and we still managed to score, like against Tampines Rovers.
“All the other players in the team train hard everyday for their opportunity to play and are highly motivated so I don’t think we will have much of a problem.”
Meanwhile, Brunei DPMM’s search of their first S.League win since April continues after a heavy 4-1 defeat to title aspirants Home United in Berakas last Friday.
The Wasps are now languishing second from bottom with just five points to their name and will need to find a way to get their season back on track with just nine matches remaining for them.
But head coach Steve Kean’s task will not be made easier with defensive trio of Haizul Rani, Hazwan Hamzah and mid-season signing Vincent Salas all missing out due to suspension.
Suspensions: Haizul Rani, Hazwan Hamzah, Vincent Salas (Brunei DPMM); Tsubasa Sano (Albirex Niigata (S))
Brunei DPMM - LLLDL
08/09/17 Brunei DPMM 1-4 Home United
21/08/17 Balestier Khalsa 2-2 Brunei DPMM
16/08/17 Home United 3-1 Brunei DPMM (RHB Singapore Cup)
13/08/17 Brunei DPMM 1-3 Home United (RHB Singapore Cup)
28/07/17 Tampines Rovers 2-0 Brunei DPMM
Albirex Niigata (S) - WWWWW
08/09/17 Garena Young Lions 0-1 Albirex Niigata (S)
19/08/17 Albirex Niigata (S) 4-0 Tampines Rovers
13/08/17 Albirex Niigata (S) 2-0 Tampines Rovers (RHB Singapore Cup)
10/08/17 Tampines Rovers 1-5 Albirex Niigata (S) (RHB Singapore Cup)
05/08/17 Albirex Niigata (S) 5-0 Geylang International
Head to Head (S.League)
16/06/17 Albirex Niigata (S) 4-0 Brunei DPMM
09/03/17 Albirex Niigata (S) 2-0 Brunei DPMM
05/08/16 Brunei DPMM 2-1 Albirex Niigata (S)
22/04/16 Brunei DPMM 1-2 Albirex Niigata (S)
13/02/16 Albirex Niigata (S) 3-2 Brunei DPMM