The Lion City Sailors host Tanjong Pagar United at Jalan Besar Stadium on Saturday (20 August) evening, looking to make it two wins out of two under interim Head Coach Luka Lalić. 

With the Sailors holding a three-point lead over closest challengers Albirex Niigata (S) at the top of the Singapore Premier League (SPL) table – and a five-goal advantage in the goal difference count – Amirul Adli wants his side to keep their eyes on the prize in the final eight games of the season.  

“We know what’s at stake right now at this crucial juncture. It doesn’t matter who we’re playing really – ultimately we have to focus on ourselves and instead of what the other teams or Albirex do,” said the Sailors’ vice-captain. 

“That’s the only way to help us sharpen our qualities and get to the level required to last the distance. As a team, we’re well aware of the end goal – to retain the league title and earn the right to represent Singapore in the ACL (Asian Football Confederation Champions League) again.”

The Sailors got off to a sensational start under Luka as they sailed to a record-breaking 10-1 win over Young Lions last weekend, but the champions are no longer basking in the euphoria of the result and are out to replicate the same level of desire and intensity in the matches ahead. 

“That result just shows that apart from the quality in our squad that has been often mentioned, our players are all hungry and working hard in our own way for the benefit of the team. No one is satisfied with where we’re right now, we’re all pushing hard to become better each day. 

“Once we step onto the pitch, we go in with a hungry mindset to show our abilities and play a good game of football for our fans to enjoy,” said the 26-year-old, who wore the armband in the Young Lions fixture and the 4-0 win over Balestier Khalsa a fortnight ago.  

With a full week’s worth of training under his belt, Luka – also the Technical Director of the Sailors’ Academy – is starting to implement his training philosophy. Adli noted the challenges of adapting to a different coaching style with just a quarter of the season to go, but the defender asserts that the team is embracing the challenge. 

“Luka’s a very direct and straightforward coach – he’ll say exactly what he wants from us players so it’s not difficult to understand what he wants from the team. Obviously, it’s a new style of play under him and the intensity is high. 

“He expects a lot of us but that’s also because he thinks highly of us. It’s been a short period of time, but we’re starting to understand what he wants and it’s getting easier for us each day,” added the Singapore international. 

“Everyone has been very positive in training and working hard to get up to where he envisioned us to be.”