The New Paper League Cup final: The Creator v The Poacher
Albirex's Sano and Warriors' Webb hold the key to glory for their respective clubs
|ALBIREX NIIGATA||WARRIORS FC|
|(Tonight, 7.30pm, Jalan Besar Stadium)|
All eyes will be on The Creator and The Poacher, in tonight's The New Paper League Cup final.
Warriors FC, the S.League's most successful club with nine league titles, will be gunning for their first League Cup win.
Albirex, meanwhile, are looking to wrap up their fourth League Cup, and third in a row.
Both teams' hopes of lifting the trophy will rest on the shoulders of their in-form players.
The Warriors will look to The Creator - winger Jordan Webb.
The 28-year-old Canadian was on song in his team's 5-1 thumping of Brunei DPMM in the semi-finals, and had a hand in three goals.
Webb knows the way to goal as well, having scored 80 goals since arriving in Singapore in 2010. This season, he has bagged seven already.
But he has truly revelled this term in creating chances for teammates Shahril Ishak and Andrei Ciolacu, both of whom have scored eight of the Warriors' 11 goals in the League Cup.
Said Albirex coach Kazuaki Yoshinaga: "Jordan has a high technical ability. But we will defend against him as a team."
Webb, who joined the Warriors from Tampines Rovers this term, said his good form is a result of a good understanding with his teammates.
He said: "Maybe it's because I've been here (in Singapore) so long that I pretty much know everybody, so it doesn't matter which team I play in.
"Of course, credit has to go to my teammates as well.
"I always say I only do as good as my teammates help me to, and they've put me in a position to do well this season."
Albirex, however, are as tough as they come.
The Japanese outfit have not conceded a single goal in four matches leading up to tonight's final.
Albirex also won both times the teams met earlier this season - 4-2 in the S.League in April and 2-0 in the League Cup group stage less than two weeks ago.
Said Webb: "There are so many things that make them difficult to play against.
"When they lose the ball, they all get behind the ball - and I mean all of them - and get a nice little block.
"And they're all really fit, so they are able to do it.
"But maybe, if we manage to score first against them, they'll open up."
But Albirex are not only about defending. They also carry a potent attacking threat in the form of The Poacher.
In Tsubasa Sano, they boast one of the S.League's finest goalscorers.
The 23-year-old has bagged 16 goals in just 11 S.League matches, and another three in the League Cup, including a brace in the 4-0 win over Geylang International in the semi-finals.
While Geylang managed to keep him quiet for the better part of 80 minutes, the Shizuoka native pounced in devastating fashion as Geylang poured forward for an equaliser.
His two goals from close range - a tap-in and diving header from six metres out - sealed the game for Albirex.
And he is gunning for goal again, tonight.
"I've been scoring thanks to my teammates' support," Sano told TNP.
"I can't wait to play in the final - I want to score and help my team reach our target."
Warriors coach Razif Onn knows all about the Albirex hitman.
He said: "In the first game this season, he (Sano) got between Bai and Kento, took one touch, and finished over our goalkeeper.
"That kind of quality finishing is hard to find.
"Some players need many chances to score, but give him half a chance, and he will take it."
Webb said he and his teammates are fired up to win the Warriors' first League Cup.
"Oh, big time," he said.
"This is what you play for as a footballer - get to a cup final, hope a big crowd turns up, and do your best and try to win it.
"The whole squad is geared up for it.
"Especially against Albirex, because they've won everything for the last two years.
"They are not unbeatable. We just have to work hard and believe we can beat them."