Albirex can win SPL even with U-19 squad: Raab
Despite fielding a new-look team, quadruple champions Albirex Niigata have won all their eight matches and top the nine-team Singapore Premier League.
Tampines Rovers coach Juergen Raab believes the White Swans could even field an Under-19 squad and still emerge as SPL champions.
|TAMPINES ROVERS||ALBIREX NIIGATA|
He told The New Paper: "Every season, Albirex have a wide selection of quality players from Japan and not many experienced players can even match their quality.
"They can bring U-19 or U-20 players and they will still be good for the title because they are 100 per cent fit and well-trained since young."
Albirex are largely an U-23 side with the exception of veteran goalkeeper Yosuke Nozawa.
Raab said: "Albirex look like champions, because nobody can beat them... yet."
As the Stags prepare to take on Albirex this Sunday, he is wary of the fleet-footed Japanese forwards who are known to capitalise on opponents' errors.
Hoping for a better performance after their 2-1 Community Shield defeat by the White Swans, Raab urges his men to strive for a home win.
"I want to see us bring a top performance against Albirex after our unlucky last-minute loss to them in our first match," he said.
But Tampines will be missing defender Irfan Najeeb, who is out for four weeks with a sprained ankle, Safirul Sulaiman, who twisted his knee, and Irwan Shah, who is still nursing a knee injury.
Forward Khairul Amri is also out due to a suspension.
"It will be a challenge for us," said Raab.
"But we will do what is necessary to beat Albirex."
- SHARIFAH MUNIRAH
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