Home wary of Warriors backlash
Home coach Aidil wary of backlash from TNP League Cup runners-up
|HOME UNITED||WARRIORS FC|
As the saying goes, beware the wounded beast.
Home United coach Aidil Sharin is wary of facing a backlash when his side entertain Warriors FC in their Great Eastern-Hyundai S.League clash at Jalan Besar Stadium tonight.
The Warriors enter this game on the back of a heartbreaking defeat by Albirex Niigata in last Friday's The New Paper League Cup final.
The nine-time S.League champions had played some of their best football all season, but simply could not find the net against their opponents.
That was what happened in the League Cup final, where Albirex striker Tsubasa Sano made the Warriors pay for their wastefulness by scoring a late winner in extra-time.
The demoralising manner of the defeat and the exertions of the 120-minute battle may suggest Home have the upper hand tonight, but Protectors coach Aidil will not be lulled into complacency.
POINT TO PROVE
"Any team will be demoralised after losing a cup final," he said.
"But the Warriors players will want to bounce back, and this makes them very dangerous.
"They might have a point to prove, and want to show they didn't deserve to lose that final.
"But, to me, it will mainly be about us, and how much we want to win and be top of the league, even for just one day."
Any team will be demoralised after losing a cup final...the Warriors players will want to bounce back, and this makes them very dangerous. But, to me, it will mainly be about us, and how much we want to win and be top of the league, even for just one day. Home United coach aidil Sharin
After 13 games, Home are two points behind S.League leaders Albirex, who play Balestier Khalsa tomorrow.
They are also the joint-top scorers (38 goals) in the league with Albirex.
Home will enter tonight's match with fresher legs, having played their last match over a week ago on July 13.
Aidil has almost a full squad to pick from, with midfielders Aqhari Abdullah and Shamil Sharif fit again.
The only key absentee is South Korean import Song Ui Yong, who is still out injured.
Defender Afiq Yunos is on reservist duty.
Besides the opportunity to climb to the S.League summit, Aidil said Home are also motivated to get a win over their arch-rivals for two other reasons.
The first is to finally put one over the Warriors.
In the first two meetings between the two teams this season, Home raced into a two-goal lead, only to be pegged back.
In an S.League encounter on April 22, Warriors clawed back to draw 2-2.
And in a TNP League Cup match earlier this month, an understrength Home side lost 4-3.
But Aidil said: "One factor to consider is that for both those games, Hassan (Sunny, national No. 1 goalkeeper) was not playing.
"This time, he is back, and I think he can make a difference."
The second reason, said Aidil, was to make sure the team would have positive momentum heading into next week's AFC Cup zonal final first-leg clash with Philippine side Ceres Negros.
Home are on the verge of making history as the first Asean champions in the revamped format of the AFC Cup, and Aidil has long been focused on the game.
For example, the coach took off top-scorer Stipe Plazibat in the League Cup loss to the Warriors to prevent injury and keep him fresh until the Ceres game.
The magnitude of the game is reflected in the fact the S.League has postponed two of Home's league games, until after the second leg of the AFC Cup zonal final on Aug 9.
Said Aidil: "The AFC Cup zonal final is very important to us.
"We want to go into that match with high morale, and a win against the Warriors will help us do that."
LAST NIGHT'S RESULT
- BRUNEI DPMM 0 GEYLANG INTERNATIONAL 1 (Shahfiq Ghani 81)