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The FourFourTwo Singapore Premier League Preview 2018

FourFourTwo gives you the complete lowdown as we preview all nine teams in newly-revamped 2018 Singapore Premier League...

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ALBIREX NIIGATA

Coach: Kazuaki Yoshinaga

Key Signing: Adam Swandi

Who they may miss: Kento Nagasaki, Tsubasa Sano, Shuto Inaba

2017 position: Champions/quadruple winners

After sweeping all there has been to win in the last two seasons, Albirex has undergone a massive overhaul, with only veteran goalkeeper Yosuke Nozawa and Hiroyoshi Kamata retained from 2017.

This is in line with the new league ruling which stipulates that the Japanese satellite club will have to register half a team of players in the U23 category and another half a team of U21 players with only one player in the open category.

Of course, we want to win everything

- Kazuaki Yoshinaga

With the option to also have two U23 Singaporean players on their roster, they have exercised this by swooping for playmaker Adam Swandi and goalkeeper Shahul Rayyan from Home United and SAFSA respectively.

They will however be hit by the departures of 31-goal Tsubasa Sano and creative force Kento Nagasaki who were both instrumental to their successes last year.

Despite the many changes in personnel, head coach Kazuaki Yoshinaga - who will be at the helm of the White Swans for a second year running - remains unfazed and is targetting another clean sweep of trophies with the club.

“Of course we want to win everything,” the reigning S.League (now Singapore Premier League) Coach of the Year told FFT.

“We don’t have serious injury problems and preparations for the season have been going on track. The coaching philosophy and what the club wants to achieve has been communicated to the players since day one and we have reminded them of this in many training sessions.”

With majority of the players in the Albirex squad playing professional football for the first time in Singapore, Yoshinaga added: “We will have to teach them the winning mentality and if they are able to rise up to these challenges, it can only be good for both the league and the club.”

FFT's Verdict: With their professionalism on and off the pitch as well as a coach well-versed in what it takes to win the title in Yoshinaga, it is safe to say the White Swans will once again be hot favourites.

Photo: Albirex

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