Jia Hui Chicharito
|Photo: Chris Harvey|
The White Swans are now eight points away from the top with four games to go and if they are to stand any chance of wrestling the title away from Tampines, this is a must-win game for them especially with an upcoming potential title decider next Wednesday.
The Albirex of 2012 while not as swashbuckling as the one last year, have still managed to grind out results and that is the reason why they are currently sitting in second place in the table. One of which will be their 2-1 win over tonight’s opponents early this season at the Hougang Stadium.
After taking the lead through Kunihiro Yamashita early in the second-half and then conceding a penalty to Hougang right at the end which Jordan Webb duly converted, they showed their never-say-die attitude and eventually struck the winner with captain Norihiro Kawakami finding himself on the other end of the pitch to head home the winner. One of the matches this season Hougang will not want to remember, definitely.
Albirex will have to make do without winger Sho Kamimura for this match after he picked up his fourth yellow of the campaign and he will no doubt be a big miss for Koichi Sugiyama’s side with his effervescent displays on the left flank this season.
Hougang on the other hand come into this match on the back of a seven-match unbeaten run, with four draws in their last four games.
This is a good run for the team from the North-East, especially after a poor run of form in the early stages of this season which saw them lose six games in a row. There were even rumours then that head coach Nenad Bacina was ready to throw in the towel.
But how things have changed. A 1-0 win over Tanjong Pagar was followed by another five wins which lifted them off the bottom three and into eighth place, where they currently sit. A win here could put them level on points with seventh-placed SAFFC who play Balestier Khalsa in tonight’s live game.
Mamadou Diallo is though rated doubtful for this one, revealed Bacina who will continue to miss the services of Ante Barac (calf) and long-term injury victim Stanislav Vidakovic (knee). Midfielder Fazli Jaffar will miss this one as well after his dismissal against Gombak in their last game.
He then added that midfielders Nurhilmi Jasni and Ridhwan Osman are both away on reservist and could miss this game.
“(Nur)Hilmi and the Ridhwan... They are on reservist. I don’t know if they will make in time for the match. And if they don’t, our bench will be made up of Prime League players defintely,” he said.
Albirex last five games: WWWDL
Hougang last five games: WDDDD
Suspended: Fazli Jaffar (HGFC), Sho Kamimura (ANFC (S))
Previous meeting: Hougang United 1-2 Albirex Niigata (S) (Hougang Stadium) (SOURCE)