Warriors focused on win and hope DPMM slip up
WARRIORS FC v ALBIREX NIIGATA
(Tonight, 7.30pm, Choa Chu Kang Stadium)
The Great Eastern-Yeo's S.League title race may no longer be in their hands, but Warriors FC won't dwell on what could have been.
The eight-time league champions meet Albirex Niigata in their final game of the season tonight, knowing even a win may not be enough to see them lift the league crown.
To nick it, they need to better leaders Brunei DPMM FC's result against Tampines Rovers at the Jalan Besar Stadium.
But, rather than praying for the Bruneian club to slip up, Warriors coach Weaver is focused only on what is within his team's control.
Insisting that they are "not losing any sleep", he said: "Everybody knows what we have to do and I don't think anything has changed.
"Even a few weeks back, we were talking about how the title race will probably go down to the wire, and now it has come down to the final game.
"We've talked a lot about what we can control, and we can control how we perform against Albirex.
"We've prepared like we normally do and I'm confident we can be successful against them.
"Other than that, we can't control (DPMM's result), so it's pointless to focus on that really. We're excited. I just want the game to come."
For Warriors and national goalkeeper Hassan Sunny, it's a case of deja vu.
In Incheon, South Korea, last month, Singapore's Asian Games team entered their final group game against Palestine needing a win to keep alive their hopes of qualifying for the knockout round.
They kept their side of the bargain, only to be eliminated after Tajikistan beat Oman with the last kick of the game in the group's other match.
"It's sad when you do what you can but the other results end up costing you," he said.
"Hopefully, there won't be a repeat but, to be honest, DPMM moving back on top of the table hasn't really affected our morale.
"We've approached this season wanting to achieve everything based on our own merit and I think the turning point came in our 1-0 loss to Balestier Khalsa (on Oct 1).
"After that defeat, we took a good look at ourselves and asked if we really wanted to be champions. Since then, we've won three consecutive games against very strong teams."
The fact that Warriors are still in the title run going into the last game of the campaign is remarkable, considering they were not among the expected contenders.
The fact wasn't lost on midfielder Hafiz Rahim.
Said the 30-year-old: "Perhaps seeing DPMM move back top with a win over Albirex on Tuesday was a bit disappointing, but that's the way it is.
"Winning the title is something that's determined over the course of the season, not because of that victory.
"I think we've done pretty well, given that no one really gave us a chance at the start.
"To be one of two teams challenging for the title on the final day is something we can be excited about."
* The writer is a freelancer.