Albirex determined to get back to scoring ways
Naruo calls on all his players to chip in with their fair share of goals to end lean streak
After a blistering start to the Great Eastern-Yeo's S.League season, the goals have dried up for Albirex Niigata in recent weeks.
They still sit pretty on top of the standings, but Albirex coach Naoki Naruo has urged his charges to rediscover their killer instinct in front of goal when they take on Warriors FC at Jalan Besar Stadium tomorrow.
Regarded by many as title contenders before the start of the season, Albirex kicked off with a 3-2 triumph over defending champions Brunei DPMM, and followed it up with a 5-0 rout of the Garena Young Lions.
However, 1-1 and 0-0 draws against Balestier Khalsa and Geylang International respectively have since followed, with Albirex's solitary goal in those matches being an own-goal by Tigers defender Nurullah Hussein.
Albirex remain ahead of second-placed DPMM on goal difference (with a game in hand), but Naruo has demanded that his charges get back to scoring ways against the Warriors.
"Playing on the artificial surface (at Jalan Besar) in the first two matches was suitable for our passing football," he told The New Paper.
"But our opponents were able to prevent us from doing that in the following two games.
"We are still making a lot of mistakes, so improving our style of football is the most important thing now - like our shooting accuracy and our ability to break (through) the opponents' lines.
"Even in the two draws, we did create some chances and we'll have to score from them if we want to win the next match.
"Warriors have strong players up front, so it will be a tough game, but we will be able to get the three points if we can play our best football."
One man tipped to play a key role for the White Swans this season is striker Atsushi Kawata, who was on fire with four goals against the Young Lions.
However, Balestier and Geylang showed that shutting Kawata out can go a long way to keeping the Japanese outfit at bay, and Naruo is aware that his side can ill-afford to be overly reliant on their main man up front.
Naruo said: "Kawata will have most of the chances since he is our central striker, but our secondary attackers will also have their fair share of chances from fast transitions.
"We want to attack dynamically so that many players can chip in with goals."
The Japanese side have a good mix of goalscorers with four other players finding the net this campaign.
One of them is dynamic midfielder Masaya Jitozono and, while he echoed his coach's sentiments, he insists that having a player of Kawata's ilk is invaluable to the team.
"It is a positive that many players have scored goals as opposition teams will not be sure who they should focus on," said the 26-year-old, who has set himself a personal target of 10 goals and 10 assists this campaign.
"However, I think a strong team always have one player who always scores at critical moments, so it is also be important that we have such a player.
"Many teams haven't made the best start to 2016 so it's very good that we won our first two games. But now we need to improve and be the team that can go on a winning run."
(Atsushi) Kawata will have most of the chances since he is our central striker... But we want to attack dynamically so that many players can chip in with goals.
— Albirex Niigata coach Naoki Naruo