The White Swans are in desperate need of a win to keep their title hopes alive.
Tampines Rovers v Albirex Nigata: Clementi Stadium
To appoint this game as a ‘must win’ for Albirex is an understatement in itself. Poor form has plagued the White Swans in their crusade to dethrone defending champions Tampines from the top of the table and they now find themselves training by eight points having played a game more than their title rivals.
If they harbour any realistic hope of lifting the S.League trophy at the conclusion of the 2013 season this is a game Koichi Sugiyama’s men can’t afford to lose under any circumstances. First they must rediscover their scoring touch after managing a paltry 24 goals in 19 games, although that is easier said than done against a team breached on just 18 occasions this term. One point from the last available 12 isn’t good enough and that could rise to 15 if they’re not careful.
Tampines, on the other hand, have found their second wind under Tay Peng Kee following a difficult start in the formative days of his tenure and hold a commanding lead at the top. Four wins from their last five has put them back on track to achieve for another title triumph and have been in an imperious mood of late.
What has been most impressive about the Stags is their consistency in front of goal this term (they currently average two per game) and they’ve have already managed a league-best of 36.
Brunei DPMM v Balestier Khalsa: Hassanal Bolkiah National Stadium
Tipped as contenders for the title in pre-season, Brunei are closer to the bottom than they are the top as the campaign enters its final cycle. Vjeran Simunic’s men were runners-up last term but have been tormented by inconsistency all year, yet sneaking into the top-six is not out of the question provided how quickly they can spark a renaissance .
Salvaging a disappointing season is the main objective now for Simunic and he’ll hope his side exhibit the same fighting spirit that saw them overturn a 4-0 deficit to Global FC in the quarter-final of the Singapore Cup to earn a morale boosting draw.
They’ll come up against a Balestier side brimming with confidence are propelling themselves up to fourth in the table on the back of an eight match unbeaten run. The Tigers have been condemned for their caustic approach, but the results are their for all to see and it’s unlikely head coach Darren Stewart will pander to the whims of his critics.
What is for certain is that the Australian will be relying on leading scorer Qiu Li to provide a potent threat for his side as he bids to mastermind another victory over Brunei having been triumphant in last season’s corresponding fixture.