Emmeric Ong: Last few SPL games for players to fight for a new contract

Home United will host a hurting Warriors FC side in the last Uniformed Derby for the 2018 Singapore Premier League (SPL) season at the Bishan Stadium on Sunday evening.

With just two games left in the SPL season, Home are still trailing Tampines Rovers in the sweepstakes for the runners-up position on mere goal difference, with both sides level on points. While Tampines have a plus-six advantage right now, both sides are due to meet in the final game of the season on September 29, meaning that the Protectors have every chance of leapfrogging the Stags.

Finishing second would be a significant achievement for the Protectors, who finished fourth last year and they also lost a number of stars in the off-season.

But first, Home will need to ensure they do not slip up against a Warriors side hurting from back-to-back defeats against Brunei DPMM that also resulted in them being knocked out of the Singapore Cup.

While Warriors have nothing left to play for – a fourth-place finish looks to be beyond them as they trail DPMM by six points – they have always brought their best efforts in the Uniformed Derby.

In the last six matches between both teams, Home have just one victory, which came in July’s 2-0 win at Choa Chu Kang Stadium. Prior to that, Warriors came from behind twice to snatch a 3-3 draw in a game that the Protectors should have put away easily.

Home defender Abdil Qaiyyim called for the team to remain focused, as well as put on a show for the fans in the last league game of the season at the Bishan Stadium.

“The morale in the changing room is good, the whole squad is fit other than Rudy. This is the strongest squad we’ve had since the start of the season and we want to do well against the Warriors, as it’s our last home game of the season,” he said.

“It’s going to be another tough game as it’s the uniformed derby. Warriors are looking to finish as high as possible in the league and we cannot take the match lightly… we are currently focused on doing well against Warriors before anything else.”

On the other hand, Warriors’ Emmeric Ong believes that the last two games are not inconsequential yet. Instead, it is an opportunity for players to prove their worth for 2019.

“It’s becoming sort of a tradition for the last few games of the season to be an audition for players for the next season. Everyone will be proving their worth (through those games) and not resting on their laurels, said Ong.

He added that the last couple of matches will also be a chance for him to force himself into Singapore national team interim head coach Fandi Ahmad’s plans for the year-end AFF Suzuki Cup.

“Of course, as well as fighting for my own contract, there is the added bonus of the national call-up for the Suzuki Cup. Missing out on the last call up was painful but I took it as an added motivation to work harder to impress coach Fandi to be included in the next.”

TEAM NEWS

Defender Shakir Hamzah will be unavailable through suspension, joining goalkeeper Rudy Khairullah, who’s still injured on the sidelines.

As for Warriors, Poh Yi Feng remains out injured.

FORM GUIDE

Warriors: LLDDW
Home United: WWLLW

PREVIOUS MEETINGS

04/07/18: Warriors 0-2 Home United (Singapore Premier League)
05/05/18: Home United 3-3 Warriors (Singapore Premier League)
27/10/17: Warriors 2-1 Home United (Singapore Premier League)
25/07/17: Home United 1-1 Warriors (Singapore Premier League)
07/07/17: Warriors 4-3 Home United (Singapore Premier League)

KEEP AN EYE OUT FOR

Izzdin Shafiq – Home United 

The Protectors captain is in the running for the Player of the Season award, and rightly so, given the way he has patrolled the midfield for his team this season. Izzdin is also the chief set-piece taker for his team and has seven assists to his name this season.

Ho Wai Loon – Warriors FC

The midfielder did not start in the last game against DPMM and it showed as Warriors were missing his combativeness in the middle of the park. But Ho is also becoming a player capable of dictating play from deep too, and while it was unfortunate that he got sent off in the defeat to DPMM, Ho should remain integral to Warriors’ hopes of ending the season on a high.

WHAT THEY SAID 

Home defender Abdil: “We know what is at stake to do well in the league. We will work hard every day, so that we will be able to give our fans something to cheer about when the season ends.”

Warriors defender Ong:
“Yes we were on a good run before the two defeats but I guess we were just not clinical enough in these two games. Defensively, we were not good enough and allowed DPMM many opportunities.”

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