Aidil eyes glory in Home stretch

The New Paper - - SPORTS - SAZALI AB­DUL AZIZ

Pro­tec­tors coach says his side can seize ti­tle mo­men­tum with win over lead­ers Al­birex on Tues­day

Home United coach Aidil Sharin has in­sisted his team are not yet out of the run­ning for the Great East­ern-Hyundai S.League ti­tle, and urged his play­ers to mount a late charge to top­ple lead­ers Al­birex Ni­igata.

Third-placed Home United are one of two teams still with a re­al­is­tic chance of over­tak­ing the de­fend­ing cham­pi­ons, with three games in hand to re­duce a 13-point gap.

Tampines Rovers, in sec­ond place, trail Al­birex by nine points but they have only a game in hand.

Home’s chance to make a move on Kazuaki Yoshi­naga’s men will come next Tues­day, when the two teams clash at Bis­han Sta­dium.

Aidil said it is im­per­a­tive his side seize the chance to in­flict a psy­cho­log­i­cal blow on Al­birex.

Asked if he felt a Home win can trig­ger a late Al­birex wob­ble, he said: “Yes, it can.

“Just look at last year, when the ti­tle race was be­tween them and Tampines.

“They lost 2-1 to Brunei DPMM with eight games left, and then went on to lose to War­riors (2-0), us (3-1) and Tampines (5-1).

STAGS THROW IN THE TOWEL

“Be­fore that, they were com­fort­ably cruis­ing. Of course, that was last year and the team are dif­fer­ent this year.

“But, even this sea­son, we saw that af­ter we beat them (in June), so did Hougang in the next game. So, if we give them a re­ally hard time in their next three games, they might have a dip in form.”

For Al­birex, Tues­day’s match will be the first of three back-to­back clashes with Home — the two teams face each other in a two-legged RHB Sin­ga­pore Cup semi-fi­nal clash af­ter the league fix­ture.

Al­birex re­main con­fi­dent they won’t slip up in the fi­nal stretch of games (see side­bar), but they will have their work cut out for them.

Tues­day’s game against Home takes place less than 72 hours af­ter they play 2015 S.League cham­pi­ons DPMM in Ban­dar Seri Be­gawan.

In con­trast, Home will be well rested, with 11 days sep­a­rat­ing their last game — a 4-1 away win over DPMM on Sept 8 — and their Tues­day meet­ing with Al­birex.

Aidil said: “Hon­estly, we are not talk­ing about the ti­tle.

“We’ve al­ways ap­proached games one at a time and our next one is against Al­birex.

“At the end of the day, we must beat them and only then will the pres­sure be on them.”

While Aidil re­mains bullish about his side’s ti­tle chances, Tampines coach Juer­gen Raab has ef­fec­tively thrown in the towel.

De­spite his side rack­ing up big wins over Hougang United (5-1) and Garena Young Lions (4-0) in their last two games, the Ger­man said the points gap and a tough fix­ture list means the Stags’ hopes of win­ning the ti­tle are slim at best.

Said Raab: “At the mo­ment, the ti­tle is not an is­sue for us be­cause Al­birex is clear (ahead).

“We have no more matches against them, so the only thing we can do is win the rest of the matches.

“Maybe, if they lose to Home, it’s a pos­si­bil­ity, but it is not in our hands now. If Al­birex keep win­ning, what can we do? Now, we are fo­cused on sec­ond place.”

Aidil is hope­ful of a strong fin­ish for Home.

Af­ter their 3-2 ag­gre­gate de­feat by Philip­pine side Ceres in the AFC Cup Asean zone fi­nal last month, they have gone on to win their next three matches, scor­ing 10 goals along the way.

“It’s good we are pick­ing up our form again,” he said.

“There are no in­juries other than (winger) Chris van Huizen, so every­one is fight­ing for his place and there’s healthy com­pe­ti­tion again.

“At the mo­ment, every­one is look­ing pos­i­tive and we all be­lieve any­thing can hap­pen with re­gard to this ti­tle race.”

msazali@sph.com.sg

TNP FILE PHOTO

Home (above) are look­ing to in­flict a psy­cho­log­i­cal blow on Al­birex in the ti­tle race, when both sides face off next Tues­day.

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