Young Lions will need to find a way past Warriors FC without inspirational defender Irfan Fandi who is struggling with a hamstring injury.
Warriors FC will be hoping to secure their first win of the Singapore Premier League (SPL) season when they take on Young Lions at the Jalan Besar Stadium on Saturday.
BACKGROUND: How a team of Warriors’ calibre can go nine games without a win is a huge mystery, but that is exactly what has happened to the record nine-time domestic champions.
Warriors have had their chances, but a combination of brilliant goalkeeping displays and profligacy have resulted in five draws and four losses.
The last game in particular frustrated the Warriors as they witnessed a goalkeeping masterclass by Geylang International FC goalkeeper Zainol Gulam that condemned them to a 2-0 defeat.
The same could very well happen this weekend when they face Young Lions goalkeeper Zharfan Rohaizad, despite him failing to keep a clean sheet in his last five games. The custodian has impressed so far and was vital in his side’s Wednesday game with Brunei DPMM FC that ended in a 1-1 draw.
That said, Young Lions Head Coach Fandi Ahmad is under no illusions that his team will have it tough against the Choa Chu Kang outfit.
His squad is beset with injuries and he has to rotate the roster as best as possible as they play their fourth game in 10 days.
TEAM NEWS: Things do not look good for Young Lions, with Jacob Mahler and Zulqarnaen Suzliman among the injured. Aniq Iskandar and Syahrul Sazali too will have to be assessed for their availability.
But Fandi’s biggest blow could be the unavailability of centre-back Irfan Fandi, who is trying to shake off a hamstring problem he picked up in the match against DPMM.
Warriors on the other hand have a relatively healthy squad. Captain Kento Fukuda made his return from injury in the last game, albeit off the bench and could be in line for a start. Khairul Nizam remains sidelined.
Young Lions: LDLWD
PREVIOUS FIVE MEETINGS:
08/04/18 – Warriors FC 0-1 Young Lions
14/10/17 – Warriors FC 0-1 Young Lions
28/06/17 – Young Lions 0-0 Warriors FC
08/04/17 – Warriors FC 4-3 Young Lions
26/08/16 – Warriors FC 5-2 Young Lions
KEEP AN EYE OUT FOR:
Zharfan Rohaizad – Young Lions goalkeeper
Zharfan was unbeatable at the start of the season for two games. He has not kept a clean sheet since but that is not to say he has played poorly.
In fact, Zharfan is building a reputation for himself as a superb shot-stopper in recent games, including a one-handed reflex save to palm away Volodymyr Priyomov’s fierce shot in the 50th minute in the game against DPMM.
Sahil Suhaimi – Warriors forward
The forward seems to be adapting to his team’s style of play and is becoming more of a threat in recent games.
Sahil was mightily unlucky not to score against Geylang in his last game thanks to a superb display by Zainol and he will be motivated to make up for it by scoring against his former club Young Lions.
WHAT ELSE THEY SAID:
Young Lions Head Coach Fandi Ahmad: “I am just happy they, the team, are coming up well. Hopefully when Ikhsan starts scoring he gets that confidence (to keep scoring) but we also need more support for him upfront. Sometimes nobody picks up (after him and) sometimes he has to do too much on his own. It’s not easy for him because of the way we play sometimes, because we don’t have much experience.”
Warriors midfielder Ho Wai Loon: “We’re still very disappointed to be without a win in nine games. It’s unbelievable given the history of this club. We have got only ourselves to blame for not putting the ball in the net with the chances given. I hope just to get our first three points and put up a good performance for this game.”