Thursday, July 5, 2012

Opponent Watch: Albirex Niigata (S)

Woodlands will start the next match in 12th position against 4th placed Albirex Niigata (S) but the White Swans coach, Koichi Sugiyama, will not be taking the Rams lightly.

557 fans witnessed a real battle the last time these 2 sides met at Jalan Besar and it took a last minute goal from Yasuhiro Yamakoshi, who thanked the heavens after finding the ball falling to his feet with the goal at his mercy, following a defensive mix-up between Fabien Lewis and Ahmadulhaq Che Omar.

Four months have passed since that game and while the White Swans have maintained their position at the top half of the S.League table, the Rams seemed to have lost their footing right after that match, falling from 3rd position into the cellar. The Rams, which had won two consecutive matches before that fateful game, never really recovered from that loss to Albirex.

Although a win is a win, the result in March only serves to flatter the White Swans as they laboured to find a way past a stubborn Woodlands defence. Japanese hitman Toshikazu Soya, who had scored 3 goals before meeting Woodlands, was kept quiet throughout the match and cut a frustrated figure up front. 

In order to grind out a result at Jurong East, our defence must aim to keep the potent Japanese outfit out like they did at Jalan Besar.

Expect a real battle in midfield between Armanizam Dolah and Musashi Okuyama.
Photo Credit:  Andrew Him (The Black Sheep)

We will also probably see the White Swans marking Moon Soon-Ho tightly, as the Korean is generally perceived as the greatest threat to the Japanese. With an average of a goal scored in every two matches, Moon is equally dangerous as a creator and has 3 assists to his name so far, the highest among a list of assistants that include Daniel Hammond, Armanizam Dolah and Goh Swee Swee.

Moon also seems to be Albirex's bogeyman, scoring in the first minute when he played against the White Swans last season after joining Woodlands during the mid-season transfer window. The former Cheonan City star could have made it 2 goals in 2 matches against Albirex but Albirex custodian Takuma Ito managed to somehow defy gravity and palm away Moon's audacious lob in the first leg of this fixture in 2012. Moon's partnership with Hussein Akil, who scored his third goal in our last match against Geylang, will also be something to look out for. Moon has assisted Akil in two of those goals, and Akil could very use make use of the tight marking on the Korean to peel away with the ball with his blistering pace.

Moon will be tightly marked by the Japanese.
Photo Credit:  Andrew Him (The Black Sheep)

Albirex's recent Singapore Cup match against Tampines shows that the Japanese are suspect to breaches in concentration, having given away a first half lead to concede two goals to the Stags in the second half. The White Swans went on to lose the game and the Rams must exploit these lapses.

The Albirex man to watch out for would be the talismatic Yasuhiro Yamakoshi, who always seems to be in the right place at the right time. Yamakoshi has 5 goals to his name so far, as many as first choice striker Soya, and our defence needs to keep a close eye on him. At 172cm, he may not pose much of an aerial threat but our twin towers need to be wary of his quick feet.

Albirex's midfield fulcrum, Atsushi Shimono, may not be the most graceful player on the pitch, nor the making the headlines by getting on the scoresheet for the White Swans, but the midfielder with the luscious locks is one of the most hardworking players on the pitch. A quiet but solid performer, he puts in the tackles where they matter, and his crisp passing would cause problems for any team. Armanizam Dolah will need to be at his best to match Shimono in this one.

The work of the tireless Atsushi Shimono must be nipped at the bid.
Photo Credit:  Andrew Him (The Black Sheep)

Albirex's "smiling assassin", Sho Kamimura, would also be a handful for the Rams. The 23 year old may only have 3 goals at the moment, but he is always on the prowl for more goals.

Against an organized Albirex Niigata (S), Woodlands will need to maintain their composure and churn out a result. It will be a match where there's plenty of passing and running involved, and the Rams will need to adopt a patient approach.

The last time we lost to Albirex, we gave them too much respect and only started attacking after a good 15 minutes had gone by. Yes, let's respect the opponent, but not to the point where we are simply being eaten like a bunch of sacrificial lambs.

Come On You Rams! We shall Never Surrender!

Match Information
Date: Wednesday, 11th June, 2012 (7.45pm kick-off)
Venue: Jurong East Stadium

1 comment:

  1. I think that it is great that they are such a rivalry. It makes things even better. Specially when you got the recommendation from a software for bookies