At the receiving end of four comebacks against the same opposition this season, Warriors FC are hoping that history does not repeat once again as they host Brunei DPMM in the second leg of their RHB Singapore Cup quarter-final tie at Choa Chu Kang Stadium on Wednesday night.
Another game, another comeback – Warriors must be sick of the sight of DPMM by now.
In the first meeting between the two sides this season in May, Mirko Grabovac’s men raced into a two-goal lead inside the first eight minutes, only to be pegged back by a Volodymyr Priyomov brace as the Singapore Premier League (SPL) game at Choa Chu Kang ended 2-2.
They met again in Bandar Seri Begawan the following month, with Warriors leading by one goal at half-time owing to Ignatius’s Ang opener but DPMM would eventually prevail 2-1 through second-half goals from Mojtaba Mollasaraei and Adi Said.
Paired together for the Singapore Cup quarter-finals, both clubs then met at Jalan Besar Stadium for the first leg in late August – with DPMM producing a miraculous recovery from two goals down to draw 2-2 late on.
Incredibly, the Wasps would pull off another comeback show in the fourth meeting between both sides in all competitions in 2018 last Saturday, as Priyomov scored twice again to render Kento Fukuda’s first-half opener immaterial in a 2-1 SPL win.
No wonder Warriors defender Ismadi Mukhtar is bent on not letting history repeat for a fifth time as his side renew hostilities in the second leg of the Singapore Cup quarter-final tie at Choa Chu Kang on Wednesday night.
“It’s just our focus… We keep on talking about the importance to be disciplined at the back, but the same thing (conceding goals) keeps on happening,” the 34-year-old told FOX Sports Asia.
“Now we just look on the positive side to inspire ourselves… Reflect on what we did right instead of focusing on what we did wrong.
“We got nothing to lose and I myself really want to win the Singapore Cup again after losing three Singapore Cup finals (with Tampines Rovers previously). There’s no looking back for us… now we have to fight as a team to beat DPMM and qualify for the semi-finals.”
Meanwhile on the other hand, DPMM forward Adi Said is keen to warn his teammates of complacency despite their good record against Warriors this season.
“We’re confident, but not overconfident! We’ll try our best to beat them,” said the 27-year-old, who has enjoyed an excellent year with 10 goals and as many assists across two competitions.
“I don’t know what the secret is against Warriors. Maybe it’s because we have very strong team work that helped us always come back against them.”
With the tie finely poised at 2-2, it is set to be an enthralling battle between Warriors and DPMM once again.
Whichever side progresses will face Balestier Khalsa in the two-legged semi-finals on September 26 and October 3.
TEAM NEWS: For the Warriors, Poh Yi Feng is out for the season due to injury but Firdaus Kasman returns from suspension to boost their midfield options.
Coach Mirko Grabovac had hinted on ringing the changes for this game, with the likes of Ho Wai Loon and Tajeli Salamat possibly returning to the starting eleven.
As for DPMM, they have a largely fit squad to call upon with Iranian attacker Mollasaraei pushing hard for a return to the lineup after recovering from an injury lay-off.
Warriors FC: WWDDL
Brunei DPMM FC: DDWDW
15/09/18 Warriors 1-2 DPMM – Singapore Premier League
23/08/18 DPMM 2-2 Warriors – Singapore Cup
30/06/18 DPMM 2-1 Warriors – Singapore Premier League
02/05/18 Warriors 2-2 DPMM – Singapore Premier League
21/10/17 DPMM 3-2 Warriors – Singapore Premier League
KEEP AN EYE OUT FOR:
Tajeli Salamat (Warriors FC)
While Jonathan Behe is understandably receiving the plaudits for his goalscoring exploits, Tajeli has been somewhat of an unsung hero for the Warriors. Operating as an auxiliary forward this term, the 24-year-old provides an abundance of energy in the attacking third and had already contributed five assists in all competitions.
Volodymyr Priyomov (Brunei DPMM FC)
Who else but him? Priyomov absolutely loves playing against the Warriors this season, with five goals and an assist in the four head-to-head encounters thus far. The 32-year-old will be looking to punish Kento Fukuda and company again, should they afford him any space in the final third.
WHAT ELSE THEY SAID:
Warriors defender Ismadi Mukhtar: “We have no fear against any team seriously… We showed that against a few times, especially against Tampines – we were unbeaten against them this season (0-0, 3-2 and 2-1). If we can beat Tampines, we can beat anyone.
“We have quality players like Tajeli and Firdaus who can change the game for us, so we are confident. We’re already out of the top four in the league, so there’s only this Cup for us to fight for.”
DPMM striker Adi Said: “Priyomov has been important for us… He’s a good player with good skill. But we try our best to score goals as a team.
“For me, this season has been good for me – many goals and many assists. I think maybe this is my best season so far with DPMM.”