S-League Preview Week 16
11th July 2012 (Wednesday)
Albirex Niigata (S) v Woodlands Wellington
Jurong East Stadium, 7.45 pm
Title-contenders Albirex Niigata are back in league action this week, as they seek to put the disappointment of crashing out of the Singapore Cup quarter-finals against Tampines Rovers behind them.
The White Swans failed to get their passing game going in a dismal 2-0 second-leg defeat to add on to their 2-1 loss in the first leg, and will look to bounce back against a Woodlands side who have not won any of their last twelve games.
With only two points separating them from joint-leaders Tampines Rovers and Brunei DPMM, the Japanese side will surely fancy their chances of going top of the table with a victory here, albeit only until the Home-SAFFC match a day later, where the Protectors can do likewise with a win.
Toshikazu Soya and Yasuhiro Yamakoshi head the Albirex scoring charts with five goals apiece and the duo will be tasked with finding the back of the net. Albirex are also a dangerous side at set-pieces, with Masatake Sato’s prowess at such deliveries and the imposing figures of central defenders Kunihiro Yamashita and Norihiro Kawakami able to get on the end of them.
There is no doubt that the Woodlands defence will face a stern examination if their opponents play to anywhere near their best and their best hope of scoring at the other end lies in striker Moon Soon Ho.
In the Korean, the Rams have a forward of genuine quality who is able to trouble the best of defences in the league. His haul of six goals account for more than half of Woodlands’ league total of eleven goals, underlying his importance to the team.
However a team effort, as Woodlands Wellington assistant coach Clement Teo has preached throughout this season, will be needed which means that the likes of Guntur Djafril, Hussein Akil and Goh Swee Swee will have to raise their games if they are to upset the Japanese side.
While Woodlands have had more rest due to their early elimination from the RHB Singapore Cup, they are still very much the underdogs here and any sort of result will be a massive achievement for them.
Albirex last five games: WDDWW
Woodlands last five games: LLLLD
Prediction: If there ever was a worst time to face Albirex, it would be now. Hurting from their loss against Tampines, there is no doubt that the White Swans will look to bounce back in the best possible way: with all three points. 3-0 to the home side.