Home eye win to lay down title marker
Protectors coach Aidil says defending champions Albirex are not as dangerous as last season
|HOME UNITED||ALBIREX NIIGATA|
It is not often that a coach can finalise his first 11 only on the eve of a top-of-the-table clash.
But that is exactly the situation Aidil Sharin finds himself in ahead of the Great Eastern-Hyundai S.League clash with Albirex Niigata at Bishan Stadium tomorrow.
Home United's preparation for the big clash has been far from ideal, with seven national players returning from the 0-0 draw with Bahrain in an Asian Cup Group E qualifier just 54 hours before tomorrow's match.
"Our national players were away for 20 days, and their tactical mindset throughout that time was geared towards the national team," said Aidil.
"The way our team play is different, so it's not easy for them to adjust back to club football and our tactics with just one training session.
"As for Albirex, they played two friendlies (during the international break) and got good results (beat Johor Darul Ta'zim II and Young Lions reserves), so they have momentum on their side.
"But I'm not about to give excuses. Our preparation has not been easy but, on Saturday, we have to show what we have, and work hard to win the game."
This year, they are a bit more disciplined and compact.Home United coach Aidil Sharin on Albirex Niigata
Home and Albirex are the only sides with 100 per cent records.
Albirex, last year's historic quadruple champions, have won their first three games, posting wins over last year's runners-up Tampines Rovers (2-1), third-placed Brunei DPMM (2-0) and the Garena Young Lions (5-0).
Home, meanwhile, have won two games, thrashing the Young Lions 6-1 before posting an impressive 3-1 away win over DPMM in Bandar Seri Begawan.
Aidil wants a third win tomorrow to cement their status as genuine contenders for the league title, which they last won in 2003.
"When you play teams like DPMM and Albirex early on in the season, wins are crucial," said the 40-year-old.
"If you beat them in the first round (of matches), you have the upper hand, because from then on, they will be chasing you.
"It gives you a psychological boost, and the team's confidence level will increase, too.
"Many people say we've made a good start but, as far as I'm concerned, it'll be a good start only if we get the result we want on Saturday."
Albirex coach Kazuaki Yoshinaga is wary of Home's form, noting their performances in the S.League as well as the AFC Cup, where they have won three out of four matches.
But the former Shimizu S-Pulse coach insisted that he will treat tomorrow's match like any other league encounter.
"Home have shown their strength from the results so far," said Yoshinaga.
"But this S.League match is just one of 24 we have this season. Every game is important for us.
"No matter what the result will be, we still have 20 matches left, and we will continue to fight until the end."
Aidil said that a 3-1 win over Albirex last October has given his players the belief that they can pull off a result.
He also feels that the Albirex team who won the S.League, Singapore Cup, League Cup and Community Shield last year were a more "dangerous" outfit.
"To be honest, I feel they had a better team last year," said Aidil. "Last year, a lot of their play centred around (departed S.League Player of the Year Atsushi) Kawata upfront, and I feel they were more dangerous.
"This year, they are a bit more disciplined and compact.
"Having said that, Saturday's game will still be very tough, but it's a home game and I believe in my boys."
- TAMPINES ROVERS v WARRIORS FC
(7.30pm, Jurong West Stadium)
- BALESTIER KHALSA v GARENA YOUNG LIONS
- (7,30pm, Toa Payoh Stadium)
- BRUNEI DPMM v HOUGANG UNITED
- (8.15pm, Bandar Seri Begawan