How they can win it: the three-way fight for the S.League title

In what has to be the most exciting finale to an S.League season in years, three teams are still in the running for the title. FFT crunches the numbers...

There was a point in the season where it looked like Brunei DPMM were running away with the S.League title and a possible treble but Steve Kean's men are now stumbling towards the finish line.

S.League Table

Credit: FAS

The title race is still very much in their own hands, but an unfortunate slip is all it would take and as results have shown this season... anything can happen.

Three clubs are currently in the frame for the S.League crown as the season comes to a close, with DPMM, Warriors FC and Albirex Niigata (Singapore) all mathematically with a chance to grab the crown.

Tampines Rovers might have made it a four-horse race, but the Stags fell to a narrow loss to the resurgent Warriors last week. The defending champions will not be lifting the crown this year after three consecutive title reigns.

But will the new S.League champions be Bruneian, Japanese or Singaporean? One thing's for certain — it's all to play for.

Warriors FC

Alex Weaver's team will be hoping for a return to the glory days, having last won the title in 2009 when they were still known as SAFFC (Singapore Armed Forces Football Club).

The Englishman has turned things around at the club since joining midway through last season, lifting them from two consecutive 7th place finishes with the help of a strong foreign contingent.

While the Warriors spurned chances to jump clear of their rivals in midseason, the fact that they're still very much in with a shout is a stark improvement on the last few years.

Photo: Weixiang Lim

Fixtures remaining:

  • Warriors FC vs Albirex Niigata (S) FC — Choa Chu Kang Stadium (31 October 2014, 7.30pm)

How they can win it:

If DPMM slip up against Albirex Niigata on Tuesday (either a win or a draw), they hand the initiative to the Warriors. A better result than their Bruneian opponents on the final day would hand the title to Warriors.

However, if DPMM beat Albirex, it'll all come down to the final day too. Both teams would be level on points and if they match each other's result on Friday, the Warriors would need to better DPMM's goal difference advantage—a whopping 16 goals!

Brunei DPMM FC

Duli Pengiran Muda Mahkota Football Club (DPMM FC) have never won the S.League title. The closest they got was a 2nd place finish in 2012, before a disappointing 8th place last season.

Former Blackburn manager Steve Kean's arrival at the club has sparked a startling turnaround for the Bruneians though, and they have a chance to win the Double after lifting the League Cup earlier this year.

DPMM have looked by far the best team in the league for large parts of this season, but inconsistent form of late has allowed their title rivals back into the race.

Photo: Weixiang Lim

Fixtures remaining:

  • Albirex Niigata (S) FC vs Brunei DPMM FC — Jurong East Stadium (28 October 2014, 7.30pm)
  • Tampines Rovers FC vs Brunei DPMM FC — Jalan Besar Stadium (31 October 2014, 7.30pm)

How they can win it:

DPMM are currently three points behind league leaders Warriors FC, but with a vital game in hand. This means two games in the final week, the first of which comes against Albirex Niigata on Tuesday.

A win would draw them level on points with the Warriors, but with a far superior goal difference. Matching or beating the Warriors' result on the final day would allow them to bring the S.League trophy back to their adoring fans in Brunei.

While Albirex are still a slim chance to lift the title, final day opponents Tampines have nothing but pride to play for at Jalan Besar.

A draw or a loss on Tuesday and DPMM will need a favour from Albirex, regardless of how they fare against Tampines.

Albirex Niigata (Singapore) FC

Photo: Football Association of Singapore

The Japanese team have quietly snuck up on their opponents, moving into contention with two games to play.

Tatsuyuki Okayama's appointment as coach has seen the White Swans play a more direct style of football and this has paid dividends this season with Kazuki Sakamoto prolific up front.

Albirex have come close on occasion, with two third place finishes in the last two seasons. They could not only improve on that this time round, but have the chance to play kingmakers as they face both their rivals in the title run-in this week.

Fixtures remaining:

  • Albirex Niigata (S) FC vs Brunei DPMM FC — Jurong East Stadium (28 October 2014, 7.30pm)
  • Warriors FC vs Albirex Niigata (S) FC — Choa Chu Kang Stadium (31 October 2014, 7.30pm)

How they can win it:

Winning both remaining matches will not guarantee Albirex the title, but anything less will see them drop out of the race.

Two wins out of two will give the White Swans 50 points come the end of the season, but with a goal difference that is the worst of the three title challengers, they will have to do some catching up.

If DPMM win against Tampines on Friday, Albirex will have to make up a huge goal difference of at least 20 goals. Otherwise, a DPMM loss will mean that the Japanese can clinch the title by beating Warriors by at least four goals.

The Warriors currently have a four goal buffer over Albirex, but any win over DPMM by the White Swans will help cut that deficit down somewhat and make it a more achievable task.