Match Previews

Albirex Niigata (S) vs Garena Young Lions: Top meets bottom


S.League | Jurong East Stadium | Thur 11 Aug | 7.30pm 

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Three easy points for Albirex Niigata (S) to get their title bid back on track.

The lowdown

Albirex Form

  • Brunei DPMM 2-1 Albirex (S.League)
  • Brunei DPMM 0-2 Albirex (League Cup)
  • Albirex 4-0 Tampines Rovers (League Cup)
  • Geylang International 1-0 Albirex (League Cup)
  • Albirex 2-0 Balestier Khalsa (League Cup)

Young Lions Form

  • Young Lions 1-3 Balestier Khalsa (S.League)
  • Young Lions 1-1 Brunei DPMM (S.League)
  • Tampines Rovers 6-1 Young Lions (S.League)
  • Young Lions 2-2 Home UNited (S.League)
  • Ceres La Salle 3-1 Young Lions (Singapore Cup)

Albirex seem to have lost their way a little, after two league defeats in a row have trimmed their lead at the top to a mere point.

Tampines Rovers are looking relentless and the White Swans can ill afford to drop more points if they are truly determined to grab their first-ever S.League title.

The good news is that they will be facing bottom-of-the-table Garena Young Lions, a club that has failed to win in their last six games.

Match fitness is an issue for the Young Lions, after a bulk of the squad failed to play regularly in the month of July due to the League Cup, which the club had sat out. This showed in their last match against Balestier Khalsa, who the Young Lions lost 3-1 to.

Albirex have already dished out overwhelming defeats to the Young Lions this season, and they will be keen to do so again

Team News

The Young Lions will be missing senior players Khairul Amri and Firdaus Kasman due to injuries, while Amirul Adli is out suspended.

Albirex should have a full squad to pick from, although head coach Naoki Naruo might opt to give some fringe players a run out.

Key Battle: Masaya Jitozono vs Adam Swandi


Jitonozo is one of the most creative players in the league

Jitozono missed out on the League Cup final after picking up his second yellow card of the tournament in the semi-finals, but he is a key member of the White Swans.

The playmaker pulls the string in midfield and his eye for key passes have resulted in nine goals for his teammates.

The Japanese should come up against the Young Lions’ midfield general Adam Swandi.

If the youngster can help to keep the ball off Jitozono and retain possession for his side, the Young Lions might be able to walk away with a point.

The Coaches

Young Lion coach Patrick Hesse has several new additions and he insisted he will need more time for them to gel together.

Christopher Van Huizen made his debut for the club against Balestier and he should be given another chance to impress again.

Albirex coach Naruo is known for his ruthlessness and he will field a strong starting 11 regardless of who the White Swans face.

Past five meetings

  • Albirex 3-0 Young Lions (S.League, Apr ‘16)
  • Young Lions 0-5 Albirex (S.League, Feb ‘16)
  • Albirex 0-1 Young Lions (S.League, Nov’ 16’)
  • Young Lions 0-1 Albirex (S.League, Aug ‘15)
  • Albirex 2-0 Young Lions (S.League, Apr ‘15)

Facts and Figures

  • Despite their poor form, the Young Lions’ have shown that they can score goals. They have scored in 11 goals in eight consecutive matches
  • Albirex have not lost three games in a row since 2014.
  • Jurong East Stadium’s artificial pitch tend to be a tricky ground for most teams, but the Young Lions will be familiar with it as they too train on a similar surface at Jalan Besar Stadium.
  • The Young Lions have the worst defence in the league, with 44 goals conceded.
  • Albirex are the best offensive team in the league this season so far, after plundering in 39 goals in 17 games.

FourFourTwo Prediction

Can the Young Lions pull off a surprise here? It looks unlikely, so FourFourTwo will go with a 2-0 win for the White Swans.

Photos: S.League