The equation is simple, Albirex Niigata FC (S) can win the Singapore Premier League title if Tampines fail to get maximum points in the next two matches.
When Albirex Niigata FC (S) take to the pitch at the Jurong East Stadium on July 14 against Tampines Rovers, they would do so knowing that a victory will mean that they are potentially one game away from lifting a third consecutive Singapore Premier League (SPL) title.
With a 16-point lead over the second-placed Stags, the title may already be a foregone conclusion. But Tampines have been known to never give up over the years, and pride is at stake for the likes of Khairul Amri and Daniel Bennett.
With Home United breathing down their necks for the runner-up spot, the Stags have plenty of reason to spoil the party for Albirex too – especially if it means that they will become the first team to cripple the White Swans’ perfect winning record this season.
It will be no easy task however – Albirex have broken a few records this year. For one – their 15 wins in a row mean that they have become the only club to have a perfect record after 15 games. In avoiding defeat, they have also kept up their perfect record at home – also another record in domestic football, and they currently hold the longest unbeaten run in the Singapore Premier League too.
Such is their dominance, that three points on Sunday would put Albirex a whopping 19 points ahead of Tampines, with eight games remaining in the season.
Here comes the question: when can Albirex wrap up their title?
Fret not as FOX Sports Asia takes you through the possible permutations.
Earliest Albirex can wrap up the title
The fastest Albirex can secure the title should they win against Tampines would be on 18 July against the Young Lions. For that to happen, Albirex have to win against the Young Lions while Tampines must lose on the same day against Brunei DPMM – something that is not entirely impossible.
That would give Albirex a 22-point cushion with seven games remaining for Tampines, or a maximum of 21 points available left, which leaves Tampines with no chance of catching Albirex.
A draw for Tampines in the game against DPMM with Albirex continuing their perfect record against the Young Lions would see the gap at 21 points. That would also mean that Albirex have secured the title, as they have the superior head-to-head record against the Stags.
What if Tampines beat DPMM in the next game?
Should Tampines beat DPMM, all Albirex have to do is to beat Balestier Khalsa on 22 July, assuming the White Swans win against Young Lions as well. That would put the Japanese side on 54 points, beyond the reach of Tampines irregardless of their result against Geylang International on 21 July.
It would also be the fastest any team have secured the title still, almost three months before the season ends.
How can Tampines win the title?
For the Stags to win the title, they have to earn at least 17 points from their next nine games starting with the game against Albirex, while hoping the White Swans lose all their league matches for the rest of the year.
Otherwise, they have to win all their remaining matches of the season and hope for the White Swans to pick up just 10 points from the remaining nine matches.
Simply put, the Stags can ill afford to drop any points against the White Swans on Saturday. But even if they manage to inflict a first defeat of the season on Albirex, and end their 34-game winning streak at the Jurong East Stadium, the odds are clearly stacked against Jurgen Raab’s men to prevent the Japanese side from clinching their third straight title.