Albirex skipper Fujihara targets all three titles
Fujihara dreaming of a hat-trick of trophies
Albirex Niigata v Brunei DPMM (Tomorrow, 7.30pm, Jalan Besar Stadium)
He has been a pillar in the team that owns the best defensive record in the Great Eastern Yeo's S.League this season.
Kento Fujihara, along with goalkeeper Yosuke Nozawa, fullbacks Mikiya Yamada and Itsuki Yamada, and centre back partner Takahiro Saito, have formed a quintet that has seen Albirex Niigata concede just 11 goals in 18 league games so far in 2015.
Their defensive displays have played a huge part in the White Swans' emergence as title contenders, after a fifth-place finish in 2014.
Tomorrow, Albirex will be looking to give their championship bid a huge boost at the Jalan Besar Stadium, where a win over leaders Brunei DPMM will see them move just one point off the summit.
Despite being the stingiest backline in the competition, they will face one of their toughest tests against the DPMM strike duo of Rafael Ramazotti and Paulo Sergio, who have combined for 22 of the team's 30 league goals.
While Fujihara is expected to play a key role in keeping Ramazotti and Sergio at bay, he believes a team effort will be crucial in ensuring his side claim maximum points.
"We know that the DPMM attack is very dangerous," he told The New Paper yesterday.
"Most of their attacks come through the two of them (Ramazotti and Sergio) and we will be able to keep DPMM at bay by working hard together as always.
"We will not only need to win our one-on-one duels against our direct opponent, but also defend as a team."
DPMM won the first meeting between the two sides - in the second game of the season - 1-0 in Bandar Seri Begawan, before Albirex exacted revenge with a come-from-behind 2-1 triumph at Jurong East Stadium in May.
The nature of this season's three-round format means teams will be familiar with one another, and it is something Fujihara is hoping his side can use to their advantage.
The 23-year-old added: "Since this is the third and final round of the season, every team know each other's strengths and weaknesses.
"I think both we and DPMM will be aware which areas we cannot allow the opponents to be dominant in, and hopefully we can be better than them in that respect on Wednesday.
"All team in the league are very good but I think if we can show the Japanese style of football - teamwork and mobility - we have a good chance of winning the league."
At the start of the year, Albirex coach Tatsuyuki Okuyama announced their bold aim of winning all three pieces of silverware on offer.
They have already accomplished the first bit by winning the TNP League Cup in July, and remain in the running for the RHB Singapore Cup, with a semi-final clash with Philippines outfit Global FC on the horizon.
Fujihara, one of just four players retained from the White Swans' 2014 squad, is understandably excited at the prospect of winning more trophies.
"At the beginning of the season, we decided we wanted to aim for all three titles," said the Kanagawa native.
"I'm glad that we've already achieved one of our targets by winning the TNP League Cup.
"Few players are able to experience winning three titles in their career, let alone in a single season, so of course I will do my best to reach that goal."
Few players are able to experience winning three titles in their career, let alone in a single season, so of course i will do my best to reach that goal.
— Albirex's Kento Fujihara