Home United vs Albirex Niigata (S): A huge test for two giants
A chance for two heavyweights to show their match fitness and quality with depth of squad
- Albirex 2-0 Warriors (League Cup)
- Hougang 0-0 Albirex (League Cup)
- Hougang 2-1 Albirex (S.League)
- Albirex 0-2 Home (S.League)
- Albirex 4-0 DPMM (S.League)
- Home 1-1 Hougang (League Cup)
- Warriors 4-3 Home (League Cup)
- Balestier 1-2 Home (S.League)
- Home 2-3 Hougang (S.League)
- Albirex 0-2 Home (S.League)
For both the White Swans and the Protectors, this will be their fourth game in ten days.
Therefore, it will be a real test of the players’ fitness and the team’s squad depth if new blood is introduced.
Both managers, Kazuaki Yoshinaga and Aidil Sharin, have opted to use their strongest teams for the League Cup which adds to the excitement of this game.
For the latter especially, he must hope that his charges are fired up against Albirex if there’s to be any chance of his team qualifying for the semi-finals.
After a 4-3 loss and a 1-1 stalemate against Hougang United, Home find themselves bottom-placed in Group A’s table and nothing but a convincing win is needed if they want to progress to the semi-finals.
Albirex on the other hand, are sitting pretty at the top of group A and avoiding defeat will secure them qualification to the next round.
These two have already locked horns twice, with Albirex failing to beat Home on both occasions (2-2 draw and a 2-0 loss for the White Swans).
Although Hassan Sunny’s reintroduction to the first team is a welcoming sight after his injury nightmare, Home have been dealt a blow with both Afiq Yunos and Khairul Nizam suspended for this game.
During the Hougang game, Afiq Yunos received a second yellow card for dissent while Khairul Nizam picked up a straight red for furiously storming the pitch from the bench.
Furthermore, the reliable young centre-back Irfan Fandi will also not be available for selection with rumours that Hariss Harun might partner Abdil Qaiyyim at the heart of defence.
As for the White Swans, they have a couple of players that might be out for long term. One of which is Tomoki Menda, while the injury status of the rest is still being assessed.
KEY BATTLE: STIPE PLAZIBAT VS NAOFUMI TANAKA
In 21 games, he has scored 29 goals. This is the incredible record of Croatian sharpshooter Plazibat.
After swapping the Cheetahs for Home, the forward has flourished exceptionally in front of goal.
Since March 14, the striker has scored in all of the 15 games he featured in. Also in that run, he scored thrice in two appearances against an impressive Albirex side.
Tanaka will be extra wary of Plazibat’s threat and hope to extinguish danger.
Aidil might have a selection headache prior to the game with Khairul Nizam and Afiq Yunos not being available for selection.
The latter’s role is especially harder to fill with Irfan Fandi out of the League Cup. However, having done it before against the White Swans, Aidil might have a trick or two up his sleeves in order to get a result.
Yoshinaga on the other hand, is a meticulous man and always wants the players to go beyond what they are capable of.
Understandably, he would have done the necessary homework this time to hopefully stifle Home and knock them out of the League Cup.
Since the loss to Home last month, Albirex had somehow lost the winning momentum (2-1 loss and a 0-0 draw to Hougang). However, they returned to winning ways with a 2-0 victory against Warriors in their last game.
Past five meetings
- Albirex 0-2 Home (S.League June 17’)
- Home 2-2 Albirex (S.League Apr 17’)
- Home 3-1 Albirex (S.League Oct 16’)
- Home 0-2 Albirex (League Cup Jul 16’)
- Albirex 5-2 Home (S.League Jun 16’
FACTS AND FIGURES
- Home United have never won the League Cup before
- Albirex have won the Cup twice in succession since 2015
- Albirex have not beaten Home this season (2-0 loss and 2-2 draw)
- This is the fourth game that both teams are playing in a span of 10 days
A high scoring game is possible with both teams missing some key players. A 2-2 draw seems most likely.