Albirex want to seal title in style
A point tonight enough to seal S.League title, but Albirex wary of Warriors side out for revenge
|ALBIREX NIIGATA||WARRIORS FC|
Albirex Niigata will seal a second consecutive Great Eastern-Hyundai S.League title, simply by avoiding defeat when they play Warriors FC at the Jalan Besar Stadium tonight.
White Swans coach Kazuaki Yoshinaga, however, insists the equation makes no difference to their approach, adding that he wants his side to retain their crown in style.
"It makes no difference and, as usual, we will fight for the three points," the 49-year-old told The New Paper.
"We will prepare for a solid win."
The form book points firmly to three points for the league leaders.
Albirex are unbeaten in their last nine S.League matches, winning eight and drawing one.
Meanwhile, the fifth-placed Warriors have spluttered in the second half of the season.
They have won just two of their last nine league games, losing four times and drawing the other three matches.
But Yoshinaga is wary of the threat they pose.
The last time the two sides squared off at the Jalan Besar Stadium was during The New Paper League Cup final in July, when the Warriors arguably outplayed Albirex .
But they were undone by an inability to finish off their chances and a goalkeeping error in extra-time, which handed the trophy to the White Swans.
Eight days later, the same script played out when the two sides met in an S.League clash at the Choa Chu Kang Stadium.
The Warriors carved out chance after chance, but could put the ball in the net only once, while two deflected goals - the winner arriving deep in injury time - helped Albirex to a 2-1 win.
While he admits he is surprised by the Warriors' patchy form, Yoshinaga expects a tough test tonight.
"Although their results are unexpected, their players' high level of ability has not changed," said the former Shimizu S-Pulse coach.
"The Warriors are a team with high-quality players in many positions, so we have to pay attention to all of them.
"And we will prepare to fight together as a team to overcome them."
Warriors FC skipper Shahril Ishak admitted he and his teammates have been inconsistent this season, but added they are fired up to prove a point against Albirex.
"This season, we have performed well in big games against teams like Albirex and (second-placed) Tampines Rovers," said the 33-year-old, who is the joint local top scorer in the S.League on 10 goals, along with Home United's Faris Ramli.
"In fact, (third-placed) Home United did not manage to beat us in four meetings but, at the same time, we have lost to the likes of (bottom-two teams) Young Lions and Brunei DPMM.
"Now, against Albirex, we are out for revenge. In the last two games between us, we did not take our chances, simple as that.
"If we can repeat the same level of performance and put the ball in the back of the net this time, I know we can get the result we want."