Faritz Hameed has warned his Home United teammates to keep a close eye on Brunei DPMM striker Volodymyr Priyomov.
Home United will seek to end a three-game winless streak when they face off against Brunei DPMM at the Bishan Stadium on Saturday.
The two Singapore Premier League (SPL) giants have had a stop-start campaign so far and neither team can afford to lose if they are to keep pace with league leaders Albirex Niigata FC (S).
BACKGROUND: It has been a peculiar season so far for Home. The Protectors have enthralled many with their AFC Cup exploits after making a second successive zonal final against all odds, yet they find themselves languishing sixth in the SPL with just eight points from seven games.
Their record of two wins, two draws and three defeats is identical to their start to a disappointing 2016 campaign two years ago – in which they eventually finished fourth.
Their attacking prowess is not in question, having scored in 15 games in all competitions this season. It is at the other end where they need some shoring up as they have the joint-worst defensive record in the SPL along with Geylang International FC – having conceded 20 already.
In their last three league games, Aidil Sharin’s men have let slip points from winning positions – with Hougang United FC coming from 3-1 down to draw 3-3, Warriors FC coming from 2-1 and 3-2 down in another 3-3 draw and Balestier Khalsa FC scoring two late goals to win 2-1.
Home defender Faritz Hameed acknowledged the need to improve defensively, with hopes of a first league championship since 2003 fast evaporating as they are now 19 points off runaway leaders and reigning champions Albirex – albeit with two games in hand.
“It’s really disappointing to lose points when we dominate most parts of the game(s),” the 28-year-old told FOX Sports Asia. “We can’t blame it (our form) on fatigue because we know how our schedule is like with AFC Cup games.
“It’s a matter of showing up for every game we play. Hopefully from now on, we can close out the games and get the results we desire. It’s important now that we focus on ourselves and win every game that is in front of us; we don’t have to see where Albirex or other teams are at the moment.”
The Protectors are looking to avoid a fourth straight SPL game without a win – something which has not happened since June 2016. However the three points will not come easy against a DPMM side, which is looking revitalized under former Brazil Under-20 coach Rene Weber.
The Wasps has not lost in their last four matches, coming from behind in three of those – from 2-0 down to draw 2-2 against Warriors FC, from 1-0 down to win 2-1 against Balestier and from 1-0 down to draw 1-1 against Young Lions – as they sit in three with 11 points from six.
Expectations have risen at the Sultanate though, with Scottish defender Brian McLean emphasizing on getting back to basics for DPMM to mount a serious title challenge.
“It was a fair result (for Wednesday night’s draw against Young Lions, we didn’t really create enough opportunities for ourselves to score,” said the 33-year-old.
“We are the masters of complicating things instead of doing the simple things well. Now we just need to focus on the recovery and get our mentality right for this tough, tough game (against Home).”
History is against the Wasps though, having not won in regulation time in six visits to Bishan Stadium since returning to the SPL in 2012. Their only win there came in that year’s League Cup quarter-finals, as they prevailed 4-2 on penalties after a 1-1 draw in 120 minutes.
TEAM NEWS: Home will have to contend without M. Anumanthan as the defensive hard man will serve a one-match suspension for his dismissal against Balestier, while utility man Fazli Ayob is out for around three months due to torn ankle ligaments sustained in the 3-1 AFC Cup zonal semi-final second leg victory against Indonesia’s Persija Jakarta.
Shahril Ishak, Shakir Hamzah, Juma’at Jantan and Aqhari Abdullah should return to the lineup after being rested the last time out.
As for DPMM, Iranian forward Mojtaba Mollasaraei is a doubt after missing the Young Lions game through injury.
Home United FC: DDWWL
Brunei DPMM FC: LWDWD
07/04/18 DPMM 4-2 Home – Singapore Premier League
08/09/17 DPMM 1-4 Home – Singapore Premier League
16/08/17 Home 3-1 DPMM – Singapore Cup
13/08/17 DPMM 1-3 Home – Singapore Cup
25/05/17 Home 9-3 DPMM – Singapore Premier League
KEEP AN EYE OUT FOR:
Song Ui-Young (Home United FC)
Song has brought his game to another level in his seventh season in Singapore, with 11 goals and two assists in all competitions and he is still only 24. The DPMM defence will be in for a long night if they do not deal with the South Korean’s intelligent late runs into the box.
Adi Said (Brunei DPMM FC)
Much of the plaudits for the Wasp’s revival have gone to the free-scoring front man Volodymyr Priyomov, but the efforts of Adi ought to be lauded as well. The 27-year-old is a big threat in the attacking third with his pace and has the knack of scoring important goals – a classic example being the late equaliser against Young Lions the last time out.
WHAT ELSE THEY SAID:
Home defender Faritz Hameed: “The last time we faced DPMM was their first game in the SPL. They have plenty of new players and were hungry to get the points. They’re a hardworking team and have a good Ukrainian target man (Priyomov) who’s in good form; he has a similar style of play to (Persija’s) Marko Simic, so the key is to stop the supply to him and try to keep him away from our goal.”
DPMM defender Brian McLean: “We are in the midst of a tough run of away games, but you can’t use it as a negative because that’s the fixtures dealt towards us. No doubt Home’s a quality team and that’s why they’re in the AFC Cup zonal final. But it’s up to us to replicate the way we played against them at home earlier in the season and give them a good fight.”
Photo credit: Home United Facebook