Albirex wary of DPMM
Champ's Yoshinaga says the Bruneian side look more like a team this season
Albirex Niigata may have won their first two games of the Singapore Premier League (SPL) season, but coach Kazuaki Yoshinaga believes that his young charges have yet to unleash their full potential.
Claiming the Community Shield following a 2-1 victory over Tampines Rovers in the season-opener, the White Swans went on to beat Balestier Khalsa 1-0 last Sunday.
|ALBIREX NIIGATA||BRUNEI DPMM|
But, as the competition heats up, Albirex will face a severe test against Brunei DPMM at Jurong East Stadium tomorrow.
This season, the Wasps have been allowed to sign three foreign players - one more than the six local senior clubs in the SPL - with no age restrictions.
That said, DPMM, who finished eighth on the nine-team league table last year, have also sounded a warning to title contenders by beating Home United 4-2 last Saturday.
Yoshinaga told The New Paper after a training session yesterday morning: "I watched their game against Home United. I feel like their Ukrainian striker (Volodymyr Pryyomov) will make a huge impact on the team.
"DPMM played very well in their first game and, as compared to last year, they look more like a team."
Against the Protectors, Pryyomov, 32, scored two crucial goals, which Yoshinaga believes is a testament to the vital role he will play for the Bruneian outfit.
DPMM have also strengthened their squad with Iranian forward Mojtaba Mostafa, 27, and Ulsterman Brian McLean, 32, in addition to the S-League's Young Player of the Year 2015 Azwan Ali and veteran goalkeeper Wardun Yussof.
Unlike DPMM, Yoshinaga's team are a largely Under-23 side, with the exception of veteran goalkeeper Yosuke Nozawa. But, when asked for his thoughts about different rules for different teams, Yoshinaga declined to comment.
Recalling their narrow victory against Balestier, Yoshinaga admitted that it was a lacklustre performance by his team.
Said the 50-year-old: "There were obvious problems for us at both ends of the pitch, both in attack and defence.
"The penalty that we conceded was also uncalled for, although Balestier didn't score from that. But they also had many good chances against us.
"For us to score through an own goal, there's definitely a lot to work on from that game."
Despite that, Yoshinaga is happy with his team's progress.
"Although they started off slow, the team are improving day by day," he said.
"They've played only two games, so some of the players have not been able to show what they can do yet.
"It'll take some time to get the best out of them, but with more games under their belt, I'm sure we'll get to where we want to be."
The White Swans are at the top of the SPL table, ahead of the Young Lions with one game in hand. But Yoshinaga insists he is not too bothered about their placing at this point.
He added: "As long as we keep improving each day, the position on the table will depict where we deserve to stand.
"Of course, towards the end of the season, we want to be on top."
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