Albirex’s Yamazaki eyes unbeaten SPL season starting with Young Lions

Albirex Niigata FC (S) defender Kaishu Yamazaki hopes the defending champions can remain unbeaten the entire season starting with Wednesday’s game against Young Lions.

The entire Singapore Premier League (SPL) will be rooting for the Young Lions when they take on Albirex Niigata FC (S) on Wednesday at the Jalan Besar Stadium.

With a 11-point lead at the top of the standings, the White Swans are pulling away from the pack swiftly and if they continue at this pace, the title race could be over in no time.

BACKGROUND:  The Albirex express is showing no signs of stopping as they notched up a seventh straight win by edging struggling Warriors FC 2-1 at Choa Chu Kang Stadium on Sunday.

Admittedly Kazuaki Yoshinaga’s men were not at their fluent best in that game, but still emerged winners through a clinical Shuhei Hoshino double as they pulled 11 points clear of their nearest challengers in Tampines Rovers FC, Brunei DPMM FC and Balestier Khalsa FC.

Surely that is a hallmark of a championship-winning side and they have the chance to complete the first round of fixtures with a 100% record when they go away to face the Young Lions.

Ever-present defender Kaishu Yamazaki believes the sky is the limit for the White Swans class of 2018 as they look to emulate Arsenal’s 2003-04 Invincibles.

“The victories that we managed has led me to believe and be confident that we can do it (stay unbeaten for the whole season),” the 20-year-old told FOX Sports Asia. “It is very difficult, but if we believe that we can challenge then we can do it.

“The most important thing is to focus and try to win the upcoming games. We’ll be able to concentrate more without thinking about the previous matches.”

With this game pitting together the top and bottom teams of the past two SPL seasons, not many are giving Young Lions a chance of upsetting the odds.

However there are enough reasons for Fandi Ahmad’s boys to believe after a decent start to the season which saw them collecting seven points from four matches – already surpassing their 2017 tally of six.

A week ago, they showed good fighting spirit to battle from a goal down to salvage a 1-1 away draw against Geylang International FC through Ifwat Ismail’s late equaliser.

Midfielder Rusyaidi Salime acknowledged the disappointment of losing two points in that game, but believes that only goes to show the progress that the local developmental side has made this term.

“We were delighted with getting a point through a late goal, but at the same time we’re disappointed that we dominated and created a few chances in the last few minutes without putting them away,” said the 20-year-old.

“We have Albirex coming up next and they’re definitely the better team with good technical players. However I believe Coach have the tactics to overcome them, the key for us to be disciplined and focused throughout the full 90 minutes.

“To be the first team to stop them will definitely boost our morale for the rest of the season.”

Recent records make grim reading for the Young Lions though, having lost the last six head-to-heads and being hit 26 goals without reply over the period.

Their last win against Albirex came in November 2015 where a lone Jordan Webb goal ensured they triumphed 1-0 at Jurong East Stadium.

One has to go all the way back to Oct 2010 for the last time Young Lions defeated Albirex at their Jalan Besar den. Then led by V Sundram Moorthy, they won 1-0 through a Hafiz Sujad goal in a RHB Singapore Cup quarter-final first-leg tie.

As for their last SPL win against the White Swans at Jalan Besar, it happened in March 2008 where a Hariss Harun brace ensured they edged a five-goal thriller.

HIGHLIGHTS: SPL – Warriors FC 1-2 Albirex Niigata FC (S)

Albirex Niigata FC Singapore continue their unbeaten run in the Great Eastern-Hyundai Singapore Premier League with a 2-1 victory over Warriors Football Club on Sunday.

Posted by FOX SPORTS Asia on Sunday, 13 May 2018

 

TEAM NEWS: Marauding right-back Prakash Raj will be unavailable for the Young Lions due to a one-match suspension for accumulating four yellow cards, while centre-back Shun Kumagai continues to sit out due to recovery from a knee meniscus tear.

FORM GUIDE:

Young Lions: LWWLD
Albirex Niigata FC (S): WWWWW

PREVIOUS MEETINGS:

08/09/17 Young Lions 0-1 Albirex – Singapore Premier League
26/05/17 Albirex 8-0 Young Lions – Singapore Premier League
04/03/17 Young Lions 0-5 Albirex – Singapore Premier League
11/08/16 Albirex 4-0 Young Lions – Singapore Premier League
28/04/16 Albirex 3-0 Young Lions – Singapore Premier League

KEEP AN EYE OUT FOR:

Naqiuddin Eunos (Young Lions)

A virtual unknown before this season, Naqiuddin is starting to make a name for himself with some promising displays down the left wing. Always a fast and tricky customer, the raw diamond plucked from Fandi’s national Under-20s last year is beginning to shine.

Riku Moriyasu (Albirex Niigata FC (S))

With the personal accolades going to his other teammates after an impressive start to the campaign, Moriyasu’s efforts has somewhat gone under the radar. The industrious wide man has the ability to whip in mean crosses from the right and have recorded two assists till date.

WHAT ELSE THEY SAID:

Young Lions midfielder Rusyaidi Salime: “We’ve a tough schedule with five games in 15 days and it’s also the fasting month, but I believe Coach knows how to manage us well over this period. I think I’ve been decent since switching from right-back to midfield, but there’ll always be room for improvement and I can definitely improve on my composure in the engine room.”

Albirex defender Kaishu Yamazaki: “I think my centre-back partnership with (Shuhei) Sasahara is doing fine and we are always working to produce better results defensively. As for myself, I model my game on Sergio Ramos and I’m learning as much as I can by watching his play. My ultimate goal to be in the the Japan National Team and to play in the World Cup.”

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