Warriors are having their poorest start to a Singapore Premier League season ever, and it will be a tough task for them to end their poor run of form against a confident Brunei DPMM side.
Having not won a single game after six attempts so far, Warriors look like they might be in for a long season, despite having a good team on paper.
They will be seeking for a change of fortunes against Brunei DPMM, although the visiting side look like a tough matchup, having dismantled two local sides already.
BACKGROUND: Of the four meetings both sides had last season, Warriors emerged victorious in three games and plundered in 12 goals in the process. That included a 5-1 thrashing they handed to the Bruneians in the League Cup – a game where they were vastly superior in all aspects.
But any expectations of similar results for the Choa Chu Kang-based side would be almost impossible, given the difference in fortunes both sides are experiencing now.
Warriors are currently enduring their worst-ever start to the season since professional football was introduced in Singapore back in 1996, having not won in five games and earning just three points. Their previous worst starts were three games without a victory, which occurred in 2012 and 2016.
They enter the match on the back of a 2-1 loss to Balestier Khalsa on Sunday – a game which saw them getting dominated for large parts of the game. The only positive note for them was Jonathan Behe’s return from injury, having missed four games since netting in the opening game of the season against Geylang. Even better, the French striker bagged a goal coming off the bench.
Grabovac called on his side to put the defeat against Balestier behind them and focus on DPMM now.
“How can you feel after losing a game? We must forget the game against Balestier and prepare for DPMM,” said Grabovac, who led Warriors to two league titles and a Singapore Cup as a player between 1999 and 2002.
But if Warriors harbour any hope of turning things around on Wednesday, they may find it tough to do so despite having home advantage.
Brunei DPMM are a rejuvenated side this year. They have won two of their opening three games convincingly, with the only blip a 2-0 defeat to champions Albirex Niigata (S) at the Jurong East Stadium. In their pair of wins, they scored four goals each and the total of eight goals scored are the most they have had in their opening three games since 2012, when they scored eight as well.
Half of those goals have been scored by Volodymyr Priyomov. The former Shakhtar Donetsk forward has hit the ground running and looks to be one of the early favourites for the top scorer award. He has also made two of the three Singapore Premier League’s team of the week.
Still, DPMM coach Rene Weber is wary of looking too much into the form guide.
“They are a big club. Sometimes big clubs do not start well in the league and it’s normal in football… they are still a great club in Singapore,” said the 56-year-old Weber.
“We are going to face an opponent looking to win their first game. It will be hard.”
Warriors will need to count on a superb start to the game if they want to earn a result, given that DPMM have conceded three of a total five goals in the opening 20 minutes. It is also well worth noting that Brunei DPMM have won six of the last 10 meetups between both teams.
Balestier Khalsa Football Club seal first league victory over Warriors Football Club at Toa Payoh Stadium since 2013 with a 2-1 win in the Great Eastern-Hyundai Singapore Premier League on Sunday.
Posted by FOX SPORTS Asia on Sunday, 29 April 2018
Ismadi Mukhtar will be suspended for the Warriors after getting sent off the last time out. Key striker Behe is finally fit although it is unclear if coach Mirko Grabovac will be playing him right from the start having chosen the option of easing him back by starting him from the bench against Balestier.
Warriors will also be missing Emmeric Ong, who has racked up four yellow cards.
As for Brunei DPMM, it appears that they will have a full strength side.
Warriors FC: LDDLD
Brunei DPMM: WLWLL
21/10/2017 DPMM 3-2 Warriors – Singapore Premier League
18/07/2017 DPMM 1-5 Warriors – League Cup
02/07/2017 Warriors 1-0 DPMM – Singapore Premier League
15/04/2017 DPMM 3-5 Warriors – Singapore Premier League
19/08/2017 DPMM 3-0 Warriors – Singapore Premier League
KEEP AN EYE OUT FOR:
Jonathan Behe – Warriors
Easily the most important player for his team this season, French striker Behe holds the key to his team’s fortunes. When he missed four games, Warriors were unable to put away chances, and it showed in his return against Balestier how much he was missed.
Blessed with pace and size, Warriors will be banking on Behe to help the team end their poor run of games.
Volodymyr Priyomov – DPMM
The Ukrainian forward has been impressive thus far and is a major reason why DPMM has got off to a good start.
The former Shakhtar Donetsk has a keen eye for the goal, be it from open play or set-pieces, and Warriors have to keep him on a tight leash if they want to get a result.
WHAT ELSE THEY SAID:
Warriors coach Mirko Grabovac: “Behe is a very important player for us, he can make some difference and with him, the team looks better. We shall see today if he will be fit enough to start… I hope he is going to start to play.”
DPMM coach Rene Weber: “We want to be always in top four… near the leaders, and to be in the right position to bounce on to the top. I want us to win away games, especially since we have eight away games coming up now between May and June.”
Photo credit: Warriors FC Facebook