The news that LionsXII captain and top scorer Shahril Ishak might not be fit enough to play on Saturday hardly moved Sarawak coach Robert Alberts on Thursday.
The Singapore side face Sarawak in their second Malaysia Cup Group D match on Saturday in Kuching, and speaking to The New Paper on Thursday night, Alberts insisted that Shahril is not the only reason the LionsXII clinched the Malaysian Super League (MSL) title this year.
He said: "The LionsXII have grown in experience. Of course, their captain is still one of their main players, but the team's strength is their good organisation and composure.
"The team never panic, are well balanced in all areas, and they have a very good goalkeeper (Izwan Mahbud). No difference "I don't think the LionsXII playing without Shahril makes any difference to us."
The Dutchman, 58, who led Sarawak to the Malaysian Premier League (MPL) title - the second tier competition - this season, made special mention of Izwan, when asked if he was wary of any player from the Singapore camp.
Perhaps it suggested Sarawak planned to attack the LionsXII, although Alberts declined to reveal his gameplan.The Dutchman would only say that tomorrow's match will be "a very exciting" affair.
Though still early in the tournament, the clash has become vital for both sides, after both lost ground in opening games.The LionsXII drew 22 at home against Kedah last Tuesday, while the Crocs lost 21 to Perak in Ipoh.
"This is an important game for both teams, no denying that," said Alberts, who guided Home United to the SLeague title in 1999. "There will be a great atmosphere at the Stadium Negeri... it looks like the game is going to be a soldout affair."