Albirex encouraged by DPMM's poor form
Albirex Niigata have never come this close to winning the Great Eastern-Yeo's S.League.
With two matches remaining in their campaign, they are one of three teams still in contention.
They are fourth on the table on 44 points, six behind leaders Warriors FC who have played a game more, and three behind second-placed Brunei DPMM.
If the White Swans beat DPMM at the Jurong East Stadium tonight, all three teams will go into the final day of the season still with a chance of winning the title.
Albirex, however, will be encouraged by DPMM's recent poor form.
The Bruneian outfit have collected a meagre point from their last three league outings, after defeats by Home United and Warriors and a 1-1 draw with Balestier Khalsa.
But Albirex coach Tatsuyuki Okuyama said: "DPMM's recent results do not affect how we will approach this match in any way.
"They have a lot of good players and their form in the past three matches do not matter.
"We know we will be in for a difficult match, but we will be looking to land a huge blow on a strong opponent."
However, Albirex have a huge psychological barrier to overcome - they have lost four straight matches (cup and league) to DPMM this season.
But whatever happens tonight and in their final match with the Warriors at the Choa Chu Kang Stadium on Friday, many already see this term's results as a huge achievement for Okuyama.
His ambitious streak was clear from early on.
Throughout, the 38-year-old maintained that his team's goal was to win every competition they played in.
Said Okuyama, who is still not fully satisfied with what he has achieved, said: "Of course, I appreciate the fact that we still have a chance of winning the title. That cannot be taken lightly.
"However, the main objective was not only the results of the team, but also the individual growth of our players.
"I will not be content as long as we fail to achieve all our objectives."
* The writer is a freelancer.