The Lion City Sailors were held to a 3-3 draw by a dogged Brunei DPMM side at Jalan Besar Stadium on Saturday (13 May), but Risto Vidaković and his men have put that result behind them, turning their focus firmly to the important task at hand – a tasty encounter this Sunday (21 May), against Singapore Premier League leaders (SPL) Albirex Niigata (S).

It is a high-stakes battle at the Bishan Stadium for both clubs, with the third-placed Sailors looking to close the four-point gap that stands between them and the White Swans who have a game in hand.

Tampines Rovers are second in the nine-team SPL standings on 23 points, three ahead of the Sailors. 

Nur Adam Abdullah is confident that the Sailors will bounce back and is backing his side to show tenacious fortitude against Albirex, who triumphed 4-0 the last time the teams met back in March.

“All of us came into the DPMM game to get the win, so we were disheartened to concede late. A win against DPMM would have set the stage nicely for us, but that draw certainly doesn’t define us, and I’m confident we’ll be able to show what we’re made of against Albirex,” said the full-back. 

“Albirex look very sharp this season, and it will be tough facing them, but we’re progressing well as a team in the game model that Coach Risto has laid down for us – we just have to finish the chances we create,” added the 22-year-old, pointing to the DPMM encounter.

“We should have closed that game with the chances we created, but we didn’t do that, and we were punished. We can’t let that happen again.”

The Sailors twice came from behind to take the lead against DPMM with goals from Maxime Lestienne and Diego Lopes. With the score at 3-2, the Sailors had a couple of chances to put the game to bed, but instead it was DPMM’s Andrei Voronkov netted a 89th-minute equaliser to seal his hat-trick and steal a share of the spoils for Adrian Pennock’s side.

Manuel Herrera López, nicknamed Súper, called for laser-sharp focus from his teammates as they battle to stay firmly in the hunt to wrest the SPL title from Albirex, the defending champions.

“We must win against Albirex to bridge the gap between them and us. We must make sure to concentrate for the entire ninety minutes to get a win that will boost our challenge for the title,” said the Spanish centre-back. 

“I will do everything I can to help the team for this Sunday’s big match, and that is the approach all of us have.”

Nur Adam sang from the same song book. 

“Albirex are sitting at the top, and we will go into this with everything we have,” he declared.

Nur Adam is also champing at the bit to impress and deliver for the Sailors’ cause, and he firmly believes that the Sailors will have a spring in their step when they walk out at the Bishan Stadium – where they have won all four home games thus far.

“It is always good playing on home ground because The Crew will be there to support us, and the feeling is special. The fans are our 12th man with their voice giving us that something extra.”