All or nothing for Tampines
Stags must beat DPMM to keep alive title hopes
BRUNEI DPMM v TAMPINES
(Tonight, 8.15pm, Hassanal Bolkiah Stadium)
This is it. Or is it? A win for the Bruneians will open up a 12-point gap on rivals Tampines, with the Stags having just five games left.
This is why it is all-or-nothing for V Sundramoorthy's men, who seemed to have found their mojo at the right time with five wins in their last six league matches.
In fact, it is all in the Singaporean team's hands - win their remaining six league games and score enough goals, and they can pip Brunei DPMM on goal difference, assuming Steve Kean's men lose tonight and go on to win their last three matches.
Talk is easy though, as DPMM have lost just one S.League match all season at Bandar Seri Begawan and have scored in every home game.
Besides Balestier, who won in Brunei, only Home United (twice) and Hougang United have brought back a point, but a draw will be of no use to Tampines who have yet to beat DPMM this season.
I'm backing Tampines based on ability and form, but also because I would like the title race to go all the way in what has been a pretty decent 20th S.League season.
- Prediction: Take Tampines to win and over 2.5 Goals
WARRIORS v ALBIREX
(Friday, 7.30pm, Choa Chu Kang Stadium)
For a stats lover, imagine my excitement when new Warriors coach Karim Bencherifa texted me after his first game in charge ended with a 2-0 win over Hougang United: "First clean sheet in 12 league games... boys magic."
Indeed, it is utterly shocking to see defending champions Warriors FC having the league's worst defensive record - their 40 goals conceded are two more than cellar-dwellers Geylang United.
But somehow, Bencherifa has steadied the ship almost immediately, as his players secured only their fourth S.League clean sheet this season.
Coincidentally, their opponents this week also managed to turn things around, snapping a five-game winless streak by beating Geylang 2-0, only the sixth time they have scored two goals in a league match this season.
With the league title well out of their hands, this match could turn out to be a damp squib, although previous encounters this season have swung wildly from a 6-0 win for the White Swans - the only AOS this season - to a 4-0 win for the Warriors.
Warriors striker Fazrul Nawaz is still in with a good shout for the Golden Boot, but this should be an even contest that sticks to Albirex's recent run of 10 consecutive matches under 2.5 goals.
- Prediction: Take draw and under 2.5 Goals
GEYLANG v HOME
(Friday, 7.30pm, Jalan Besar Stadium)
Congratulations to Philippe Aw and his Home United team for creating this season's longest unbeaten streak, which is still alive and running at 10 games.
This is remarkable for a coach taking charge of a senior team for the first time, and for a team that have had to cope with injuries throughout the season.
But whenever they were able to field their best 11, like they did in the 2-0 win over title-contenders Balestier Khalsa, they have looked very polished. If the S.League started only after the SEA Games, Home United would surely have been front-runners.
However, they find themselves in the bottom half, and time is running out for them to reach their top-three target. They also have the second leg of the RHB Singapore Cup to think about, where they have a realistic chance of winning silverware.
Could this open the door for last-placed Geylang to try to get some points on board in their fight against gravity?
Unfortunately, I don't think so. Just one win in 13 games is plain horrible form and, while I believe the Geylang players are capable of better results, I'm not sure whether the demoralised Eagles can lift themselves up to avoid finishing last for the first time in history.
- Prediction: Take Home United to win and over 2.5 Goals