Brunei DPMM will step into the renowned Jurong East Stadium which is home to defending champions Albirex Niigata FC (S) on Sunday.
The White Swans have yet to taste defeat on home soil in 31 games and it will take a mammoth effort for the Wasps to get anything out of this fixture.
BACKGROUND: Another week in the SPL and the same question beckons – which team will be the first to stop Albirex’s perfect record?
The Japanese side have won 10 on the trot – the best start ever any club has had to a SPL season – and they are showing no signs of stopping yet.
They could also be forgiven for thinking that the streak will be stretched to 11 games on Sunday. After all, they easily dispatched their opponents Brunei DPMM back in April.
Furthermore, they have won 31 games straight at the Jurong East Stadium.
Yet, head coach Kazuaki Yoshinaga is not entertaining any notion that his team can simply turn up and get three points from the game.
“It is impossible for us to play at a high level all the time. Therefore, we must always keep our focus and stay grounded,” he said.
“We must improve further. It is impossible to play at a high level with the current performance.”
Yoshinaga added that DPMM cannot be taken lightly simply because DPMM’s foreign players are “particularly wonderful”.
“We always respect our opponents and want to be humble. I feel that the challenges we are going to face against Brunei will be that they will be difficult to break down,” said the 50-year-old.
However, Yoshinaga’s counterpart Rene Weber knows that his side will have his work cut out. While the Brazilian pointed out that DPMM were able to match Albirex in the second half of their first meeting, he said that his players are fasting this time round and “it will not be easy”.
“We have the team to beat them … but to win them, we must play hard and be very organised,” said Weber. “We have to score the chances that come our way. If we are able to score first, then it will be interesting to see how they deal with the situation.”
The odds though are clearly stacked against the Bruneians, given that Albirex have won four straight matches against them, and have lost just once in the last 10 meetings.
It is also well worth nothing that the only time Brunei DPMM have failed to score in a league match so far was against Albirex in April.
Albirex will continue to miss centre-back Shun Kumagai, who continues to recover from a meniscus tear, as well as forward Adam Swandi, who is struggling with a knee problem.
DPMM’s Iranian forward Mojtaba Mollasaraei missed the last two matches and it is unclear if he will be able to start against Albirex, although Weber has said that the full team will be available.
14/04/18: Albirex 2-0 DPMM – Singapore Premier League
16/09/17: DPMM 0-1 Albirex – Singapore Premier League
16/06/17: Albirex 4-0 DPMM – Singapore Premier League
09/03/17: Albirex 2-0 DPMM – Singapore Premier League
05/08/16: DPMM 2-1 Albirex – Singapore Premier League
KEEP AN EYE OUT FOR:
Albirex – Taku Morinaga
The dimunitive forward was simply unstoppable in Albirex’s last game, as he scored a stunning hat-trick and notched an assist. His explosiveness on the pitch more than make up for his small stature and he is equally capable of creating goals as well as scoring it, as Balestier found out.
With six goals and four assists to his name so far, Morinaga will no doubt look to add onto that tally and DPMM will need to keep an eye on him at all times during the game.
DPMM – Volodymyr Priyomov
When Priyomov gets it going, DPMM gets it going. But when Priyomov struggles, it is very likely that DPMM will be struggling as well. Such is his importance to the team – he is the team’s top scorer with seven goals – that DPMM’s fortunes largely rely on him.
Having not scored in his last two matches, the Ukrainian will be keen to put across a point – and if he can do that against Albirex, DPMM may well stand a chance in the game.
WHAT ELSE THEY SAID:
Albirex coach Yoshinaga: “We are not interested in that (talk of title being a foregone conclusion already). We only improve by looking at the reality, and there is still a lot of work to be done for these boys.”
DPMM coach Weber: “Albirex are a very good team… they have the privilege no other clubs in Singapore have. They have 25 players coming from a top four Asian country, so no surprise about their perfect record so far.”