SINGAPORE - Albirex coach Koichi Sugiyama is finally thinking about winning the S-League. In the past two seasons, the 42-year-old coach had always opted to stay coy about his team's title chances.
In 2011 and 2012, the White Swans kept close to the heels of eventual winners Tampines, before late dips in form saw them drop out of contention.
This year, with six matches remaining before the play-off round, the White Swans trail leaders Tampines by four points, having played a game more.
"Yes, I am thinking about the title," Sugiyama (left) said. "We will do our best. I think we can (win the league), but whether we will, nobody knows."
The ever-smiling coach hopes for luck to be on their side.
In the 1-1 draw against the Courts Young Lions last week, Albirex dominated their opponents but were denied a winning goal by a stubborn defence.
Sugiyama said: "We wanted to win so badly, but that's football - sometimes you beat a strong team and then you fail to beat a not-so-strong team."
He regards Woodlands Wellington, their opponents at the Jurong East Stadium tonight, as a "good team".
But three points against the Rams are essential to keep pace with Tampines.
"Woodlands are an organised and tactical team, whose South Korean strikers (Moon Soon Ho and Chang Jo Yoon) are very dangerous," he said. "Their coach, Salim Moin, knows football very much."