Young Lions vow to end homeground hoodoo
Young Lions all fired up to exorcise Jalan Besar 'curse' and get first home win
COURTS YOUNG LIONS v WARRIORS FC
(Tonight, 7.15pm, Singtel TV CH 111)
They have lost 10 games at home all season, even during the post-South-east Asia Games purple patch that has seen them amass 15 points from 14 games.
The Courts Young Lions are looking to exorcise their Jalan Besar Stadium demons tonight when they play hosts to defending Great-Eastern-Yeo's S.League champions Warriors FC.
Midfielder M Anumanthan cannot quite put his finger on why familiarity with the artificial surface, where the Young Lions train, has not translated into any wins in 2015.
But he believes that a fearless adherence to their pass-and-move style of football will be key for the team to break the jinx.
"We were actually joking about the curse of Jalan Besar, we train here all the time, and we really don't know why we can't seem to win here," said the 21-year-old.
"Sometimes it's bad luck, sometimes we take the lead, then lose it, but we haven't won at home, and (Young Lions coach) Juergen Raab really wants us to get rid of that curse (tonight)," he added.
In their last home fixture, on Oct 4, the Young Lions took a 25th-minute lead against the league's bottom side, Geylang International, through Jordan Webb.
But they could not hold on to their advantage, as Japanese forward Bruno Castanheira struck a hat-trick to condemn them to defeat.
Tonight's fixture is only one of three remaining opportunities left - along with fixtures against Malaysia's Harimau Muda (Oct 27) and Geylang (Nov 6, "live" match) - for the Young Lions to break what would be an embarrassing record of going an entire season without a win at their Jalan Besar home.
"But we are more confident when we play these days, and we play without fear of making mistakes," said Anumanthan, who insists this mentality is vital as the Young Lions look for their first home win.
"(Raab) has told us that we must play passing football, even if we are likely to lose the ball and we might make mistakes. He told us that this is the only way we can learn," said Anumanthan who was an unused substitute in Singapore's two wins in Group E of the World Cup/Asian Cup qualifiers over the last week.
"That has made all of us feel secure in our style, and we are enjoying our football now too."
The Young Lions will have to deal with Fazrul Nawaz, the Warriors forward whose 14 league goals see him sit atop the scorers' charts, alongside Balestier Khalsa's Miroslav Kristic, and Brunei DPMM forward Rafael Ramazotti.
Fazrul's confidence is on a high after scoring the winning goal in Singapore's 2-1 win over Cambodia on Tuesday, but Anumanthan has also gleaned valuable experience from his national team stint.
"I do have issues with managing my anger on the field, but I'm learning to manage my weaknesses, I'm taking it step by step," said the midfielder who has been prone to verbal outbursts, and instances of excessive aggression.
"I'm learning from the senior players in the national team and, this time, they have been really welcoming."
"Even though I didn't get to play, I've learnt a lot on and off the field," he added, revealing that he cannot wait to get back into action tonight.
"Our target is simple - get that first home win."