Warriors FC will pay Albirex Niigata FC (S) a visit at their Jurong East Stadium fortress this Sunday in the Singapore Premier League (SPL) knowing the impossible mission on hand.
With each passing round, the pressure increases on the local clubs to step up and match Albirex, who have overcome every hurdle they encountered so far.
Rather than it being a question of when will they lose, it has become a question of who could actually compete with them.
There is no underplaying the situation; Albirex have been dominant over the years, embarking on a 35-game unbeaten run in all competitions which started with a 0-0 League Cup draw with Hougang United just a year ago.
They seem primed to retain the championship once again, after clinching a 2-1 win over Hougang United in the last round to maintain their perfect record of 14 wins this season.
It should be win number 15 this weekend too, when they host a beleaguered Warriors FC side.
Not many will give the visitors a chance, not when Albirex clearly thrive on playing at home and have won 33 straight games there. Albirex last lost at Jurong East in 2015, November 13 when they went down 1-0 to Tampines Rovers.
But you can never say never in football and the Warriors will definitely be gearing up for a battle they are desperate to win, since they lost their last game 2-0 to Home United.
The Warriors will look to history for inspiration, after they ended Albirex’s unbeaten start to the 2016 season, beating them 2-0.
Warriors defender Delwinder Singh hopes to draw on his own personal experience too, as he was in the Hougang United squad that last beat Albirex prior to their undefeated run.
“It’s frustrating to see a foreign team in our league, our own Singapore league, dominating,” Delwinder added.
“So deep down, I really want to win this game, not even draw, I really want to win this game. Yes, they are strong but I think they are beatable and I hope we are the first team to upset them.”
Warriors might see several notable absentees, with the likes of Shamil Sharif and Nur Luqman missing the game against Home. Khairul Nizam is still on his way back to full fitness.
On the Albirex front, Shun Kumagai and Kaishu Yamazaki are set for an extended spell on the sidelines.
Albirex Niigata FC (S): WWWWW
Warriors FC: WWWLL
13/05/18: Warriors 1-2 Albirex – Singapore Premier League
03/11/17: Albirex 5-1 Warriors – Singapore Premier League
29/07/17: Warriors 1-2 Albirex – Singapore Premier League
21/07/17: Albirex 1-0 Warriors – League Cup
10/07/17: Albirex 2-0 Warriors – League Cup
KEEP AN EYE OUT FOR:
Ryujiro Yamanaka (Albirex Niigata FC (S))
Albirex have been bringing some outstanding talents to Singapore in recent years and Yamanaka is turning out to be one of their breakout stars this season.
He loves taking defenders on and has an eye for the killer pass, leading to seven assists for his team. Yamanaka also has four goals to his name and is surely a contender for the Player of the Season gong, if he keeps this up.
Tajeli Salamat (Warriors FC)
Fielded in various positions previously, Tajeli looks to have found his spot as a forward for Warriors. He acts as the perfect foil for strike partner Jonathan Behe and his deliveries have been decent.
WHAT ELSE THEY SAID:
Albirex Niigata FC (S) Midfielder Ryujiro Yamanaka: “The secret (to my assists and goals) lies in having trust in my fellow team mates, I believe in them and try to also do the same by providing good passes to them and making runs for them to give the ball to me. I prefer to assist. However, I just want to contribute as much as I can to the team and be a good team player.
“We feel confident because of the great team spirit and everyone is working hard for one another. However, we cannot be complacent, we need to keep focus at all times and execute what we have practicing in our training sessions into our matches.
“Definitely (need to keep an eye on) Jonathan Behe. He is an important player for Warriors because he has the ability to take up good scoring positions and score many goals.”
Warriors FC Defender Delwinder Singh: “They are unbeaten, miles ahead of everyone. But in this instance, we have got nothing to lose.
“Everything is against us, definitely Albirex are favourites. What we have to do is, we know our strength and play according to it to surprise them.
“For me it’s just to go out and do what we always do, and see how the game goes. Concentration is a very big factor for us to go out as a team. It is key to stopping them for the whole 90 minutes.
“What is crucial is for us is to frustrate them. The last time they lost was when I was in Hougang. We had a lot of young players playing in that game but coach told us to frustrate them and that is what I will take to this game. Just go out there, play our best and stay compact and with those, we could create an upset.”