S League: White Swans won't wave white flag

S League: White Swans won't wave white flag
Great Eastern-Yeo's S.League 2014 - Albirex Niigata FC 4 vs Home United 2. Albirex footballer Kazuki Sakamoto (in orange) wheels away in celebration from a deflated Home United goalkeeper Shahril Jantan (on ground) after scoring his team's third goal in the S.League match held at Jurong East Stadium on 27 April 2014.

Their title hopes are gone, but not their fighting spirit.

Albirex Niigata insist they will be going all out against Warriors FC tonight, even if the result may destroy their opponents' dream of winning the Great Eastern-Yeo's S.League trophy.

The Japanese club had blown their own chances of lifting the crown when they lost 1-0 to Brunei DPMM on Tuesday.

If they beat the Warriors at the Choa Chu Kang Stadium tonight, the Bruneian club will be crowned champions regardless of their result against Tampines Rovers.

White Swans coach Tatsuyuki Okuyama said that the only thing his charges are playing for is themselves.

He said: "Even though this is our last game, we will still try our best to show we have learnt from our experiences this season.

"It may be the end of the season but it is only the beginning of their football careers for these players, so I want them to keep growing until the end of our final 90 minutes.

"It doesn't matter whether or not we are challenging for the title. It is important as professionals for the players to put in their best performance in any situation.

"Because of what we have achieved in the previous 26 games, we are able to play in such an important game which will decide who becomes champions.

"It will be another good opportunity for the players to gain more experience and we will do our best to win."

Currently fourth in the table, Albirex have earned praise for their excellent performances, especially as this is Okuyama's first season in charge.

They still have a chance to finish third, while the lowest position they can possibly end up in is fifth.

While Okuyama sets high standards for his charges, the 38-year-old admitted he is satisfied with what his team have achieved.

STRONG PLAYERS

"Throughout the season, our players did their best to play our brand of football," he said.

"I really appreciate that I have been able to meet these strong players.

"I'm also thankful to Singapore - a great country - for giving us the opportunity to play football.

"We now have one last performance to give and the positive thing is we have been creating many chances in every game.

"If we can put away these chances, I'm confident we will be able to finish the season with a positive result."

The last time the two teams met was in August, when Albirex came out 3-1 winners.

In this season's only other competitive meeting between them, Warriors won 4-0 in April, with all four goals coming from Nicolas Velez.

TOP SCORERS

23: Rodrigo Tosi (Brunei DPMM)
21: Kazuki Sakamoto (Albirex Niigata, left), Geison Moura (Hougang United), Nicolas Velez (Warriors FC)
20: Goran Ljubojevic (Balestier Khalsa)
15: Roy O'Donovan (Brunei DPMM)
13: Leo Felice (Geylang International)
12: Miroslav Pejic (Warriors FC)


This article was first published on Oct 31, 2014.
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