Home United will face a daunting task on Saturday when they head to the Jurong East Stadium to take on an undefeated Albirex Niigata (S) in the Singapore Premier League.
It is a stat that does not make for good viewing. In seven meetings against Albirex since the start of 2017, Home have won only once – a 2-0 win at Jalan Besar Stadium in June last year.
During that period, they have scored just six times, compared to the 15 goals they have allowed the Japanese side to put past them, including six goals conceded in their first meeting of the 2018 season in April.
That match saw The Protectors dominated completely by the White Swans, with Home not knowing what hit them. Head coach Adil Sharin even admitted that the performance was “unacceptable” and that they “were second to everything”.
Home have since improved their showing in the league, losing just once in the last six league matches. That form has seen them shoot up to third in the standings.
They are 19 points behind the perfect Albirex team though, albeit with two games in hand. Aware of the mountain of a challenge they will be facing on Saturday, Aidil called on his charges to give everything they have and try to spring a surprise on the Japanese side.
“I spoke to the boys… what we can do now is to keep winning, put the pressure at the top, and yes, (closing the gap on) first is difficult, but football is always full of surprises. We will try to give everything that we’ve got,” said Aidil.
“Hopefully with the momentum from the two wins, we can surprise them this coming Saturday, which is not going to be easy because we just played on Wednesday and it’s the fasting month.”
Whether Home can do just that remains to be seen though. Albirex have won 32 straight games at home and they are also unbeaten in their last 32 matches in all competitions stretching back to July last year.
They have also won their last two matches at Jurong East by a 5-0 scoreline, dismantling both Balestier Khalsa and Brunei DPMM easily.
Albirex aren’t just dominating games; they are tearing teams apart and that is something Home have got to be wary about especially if they want to stand any chance of catching the league leaders at the top of the table.
Albirex will continue to miss both forward Adam Swandi and defender Shun Kumagai.
Home will not be able to call upon Juma’at Jantan, who is done for the season after breaking his leg, and Fazli Ayob, who is still weeks away as he continues to recover from torn ankle ligaments. Sirina Camara may miss out as well, after he was stretchered off the pitch against the Young Lions on Wednesday.
18/04/18: Home 1-6 Albirex – Singapore Premier League
30/09/17: Home 1-2 Albirex – Singapore Cup
27/09/17: Albirex 3-1 Home – Singapore Cup
19/09/17: Home 1-1 Albirex – Singapore Premier League
13/07/17: Home 1-1 Albirex – League Cup
Keep an eye out for:
Albirex – Wataru Murofushi
The Albirex captain continues to find ways to impress, taking his game up a notch week after week. Not just capable of dictating play from midfield, he is also a scorer of wonder goals – like the one he scored against DPMM last week, where he skipped past a number of challenges and slammed a powerful effort into the net.
Home – Izzdin Shafiq
The Home captain put on a superb showing and ran the show for his team against the Young Lions on Wednesday. A midfielder capable of pulling the strings from the middle of the park, Izzdin is also capable of scoring from set-pieces – something Izzdin needs to capitalise on against Albirex if he wants to help his team earn the points.
What else they said:
Home head coach Aidil: You have to give credit to them (for their record at Jurong East Stadium), they have consistently performed and got the results. Albirex is having good momentum, but let’s put pressure on them and try our best to get a surprise on Saturday.
Albirex forward Hiroyoshi Kamata: “We do not look back (on the previous result), instead, we will look at the present moment and the future and I am confident that we will do well this time too. Whatever we do, we want to give our opponents a good fight without getting out of hand, I think we can win if we play our football and deliver what we have been practicing during training.”