Garena Young Lions vs Home United: Protectors eye winning return to JBS

S.League | Jalan Besar Stadium | Sat 11 June | 8pm 

Billed as

An opportunity for Home to continue from where they left off.

The lowdown

Young Lions Form

  • 29/05/16 Ceres La Salle 3-1 Young Lions (SG Cup)
  • 19/05/16 Hougang United 1-1 Young Lions (S.League)
  • 12/05/16 Young Lions 3-1 Warriors FC (S.League)
  • 05/05/16 Geylang International 3-1 Young Lions (S.League)
  • 28/04/16 Albirex Niigata (S) 3-0 Young Lions (S.League)

Home Form

  • 26/05/16 Home 2-1 Hougang United (SG Cup)
  • 19/05/16 Home 5-0 Brunei DPMM (S.League)
  • 13/05/16 Tampines Rovers 1-2 Home (S.League)
  • 29/04/16 Home 3-2 Hougang United (S.League)
  • 22/04/16 Warriors FC 1-2 Home (S.League)

The Young Lions have the chance to put the disappointment of finishing last in the Nations Cup behind them when they return to league action.

Four points from their last two games, accompanied by much-improved performances, suggest that Patrick Hesse’s boys have belatedly started to find their feet.

They have been boosted by the return of senior striker Khairul Amri, who should be in good condition having played a cameo role in Singapore’s AYA Bank Cup efforts in Myanmar.

Joshua Bernard Pereira’s emergence over recent games has been a particular highlight, while Shannon Stephen has also impressed. Despite losing their Singapore Cup tie to Ceres La Salle, they should be in good spirits ahead of this clash.

However, it will take a lot more than that to get any sort of result against Home United. The uniformed giants have turned things around after a sluggish start to the season and will come into this looking for a fifth consecutive league victory.

Azhar Sairudin, with a goal in each of his last three games, was rewarded with his first two Singapore caps over the international break. He forms a lethal trio comprising Faris Ramli and Ken Ilsø, that is capable of carving any defence apart.

The Protectors are arguably playing the most attractive football, even more than leaders Albirex Niigata (S), and one gets the impression that the players are enjoying themselves on the pitch.

Interestingly, it will be the sixth time in their last seven games that Home will be playing at Jalan Besar and the pitch should feel like a second home to them by now.

Team news

Ammirul Emmran is fit again after missing the Ceres game, while Adam Swandi could be in line for a start along with Amri. Ashrul Syafeeq is still recovering from injury though and remains a doubt for the Young Lions.

Long-term knee injury victims Nur Hizami Salim, Ang Zhi Wei and R. Aaravin continue to miss out for Home, with the latter two having undergone recent surgeries. Captain Juma’at Jantan is recovering from a hamstring injury but will not make it in time for this clash. Otherwise, there are no injury concerns.

Key Battle: Ken Ilsø vs Amirul Adli

Give Ilso a chance and he can make Young Lions pay

Having scored in each of his last six games, totalling seven goals, Ken Ilsø is the most in-form striker in Singapore at the moment.  

The Danish forward was utilised on the flanks earlier in the season but has hit his stride since being deployed in a central position. Without doubt one of the best players in the league, the 29-year-old is both a lethal finisher and capable creator.

Amirul Adli is likely to be tasked with shackling the Great Dane and he will have to pull out all the stops to do so. The 20-year-old has long been regarded as one of the best local defensive prospects, having made his league debut in 2011 before going on to earn his first senior international cap in 2014.

His season was disrupted by National Service commitments early on but he has since returned to establish himself at the back.

Unflappable on his day, Amirul will have to keep a tight watch on Ilsø, who has scored four match-winning goals already so far.

The Coaches

Patrick Hesse has overseen an improvement in performances in recent weeks, so credit has to go to him and the staff for keeping up the Young Lions’ morale despite a terrible losing streak earlier.

The Frenchman likes his charges to keep the ball on the ground and build up play from there, but he will have to instruct them to stay vigilant defensively and stick to the game-plan against a formidable attacking force.

Philippe Aw has pretty much got his team playing the way he wants them to and the challenge now is to improve on that, as well as keep doing so on a consistent basis. Lightning-fast and precise counter-attacks have been a highlight, while defensive lapses have been cut out of late.

Past five meetings

  • 17/03/16 Home 4-1 Young Lions (S.League)
  • 15/11/15 Home 2-1 Young Lions (S.League)
  • 27/08/15 Young Lions 0-2 Home (S.League)
  • 28/04/15 Home 0-1 Young Lions (S.League)
  • 28/08/14 Home 0-3 Young Lions (S.League)

Facts and Figures

  • The last time Home won five straight league games was in October 2011.

  • Ken Ilsø has scored nine league goals, just one less than Young Lions’ overall tally.

  • Home and Young Lions are two of the four teams (along with Warriors FC and Tampines Rovers) to have used two different starting goalkeepers this season.

  • Nine different players have scored for Home in the league this season, joint second-most with Albirex Niigata (S). Only Tampines Rovers (10) have more. In contrast, Young Lions have the least with 4.

  • Home have scored a league-high seven times in the first 20 minutes. Young Lions have conceded a league-high nine times in the same time-span.

  • Eleven different players have made at least one league assist for Home, joint-most with Warriors FC.

  • Young Lions are the only team not to have scored from a set-piece in the league.

  • Home will be playing their sixth league game at Jalan Besar this season, the second-most after Young Lions (7) themselves.

FourFourTwo prediction

Home look unstoppable and they will only have themselves to blame if they don’t take maximum points from this. 3-0 to the Protectors.

Photos: S.League