Weaver wants a good show from his Warriors for rest of season
Warriors coach not thinking about title defence, demands good performances till end of season
HOME UNITED v WARRIORS FC
(Tonight, 7.30pm, Yishun Stadium)
Win their remaining six matches and it still may not be enough for Warriors FC to retain their Great Eastern-Yeo's S.League title.
It might be a similar situation to last season when a late surge by Warriors, coupled with Brunei DPMM's remarkable meltdown, was enough for them to claim a ninth league crown.
The only problem this year is that, even if leaders DPMM once again collapse, the likes of Balestier Khalsa, Tampines Rovers and Albirex Niigata are all better placed to capitalise.
That makes the Warriors' clash with arch-rivals Home United in the Uniformed Derby at Yishun Stadium tonight a must-win.
Rather than worrying about keeping alive their ailing title prospects, coach Alex Weaver wants only one thing to be on his players' minds.
"I haven't looked at the table for a number of weeks now," he told The New Paper.
"Because until we sort ourselves out, there's no point looking at others. Right now, we're not concerned about the end of the road or the title, we just want good performances from now till the end of the season."
NOT AN EXCUSE
While he was keen to stress it was not an excuse, Weaver identified the mid-season break for the South-east Asia (SEA) Games as just one of several external factors that affected them this year.
The Englishman explained: "People can say it's an excuse, but I try to be as analytical as possible and always look at where you can improve in and areas you haven't been able to control.
"There have been a lot of areas we haven't been able to control. Before the SEA Games break, we played 11 games in the league and eight in AFC competition.
"That's eight more than almost everyone else and yet we were two or three points better than at the same stage last season.
"We dealt with it really well and, suddenly, we had that break and it just killed our momentum.
"I don't think we've fully found our feet since then and we've always been playing catch-up."
One player who knows all about title run-ins is Warriors captain Daniel Bennett, who has five S.League titles and two Singapore Cup winner's medals to his name, along with three Asean Football Federation (AFF) crowns during his time with the Singapore national team.
When asked about how crucial tonight's game against Home is, he said: "Every game for us now is a must-win. Even if we win all six remaining games, we might still not win the league, but we can't give up hope.
"There are some teams at the top who haven't won it before and we've got to go on our experience.
"It's been shown all over the world that, when the pressure really hits, it's hard to cope, so last year's experience (will be an important factor)."
The centre back also stressed the importance of ensuring Home marksman Ken Ilso is not allowed to repeat what he did against Warriors in the quarter-finals of the RHB Singapore Cup, where he inspired his side to a two-legged 4-1 triumph.
"There are certain players in the league who have that extra bit of quality and Ken's certainly one," Bennett said.
"He's come from a higher level and, if you give him space, he'll hurt you. But we've played in games where we haven't given him space and he hasn't done as much."
Likewise, Hafiz Rahim, who scored the crucial goal that won Warriors the title on the final day of last season, insists his team cannot afford to throw in the towel just yet.
"It is most important for us to believe, start playing well again and collect the three points," he stressed.
"There are good characters in our dressing room to help us bounce back from our last defeat. Mathematically, it's still possible so we have to take care of our own results and see what happens with the other teams."
- Home United v Warriors FC
- Geylang International v Hougang United
- Harimau Muda v Brunei DPMM
- Home United v Balester Khalsa
- Albirex Niigata v Geylang International
- Warriors FC v Hougang United
- Courts Young Lions v Harimau Muda