They have returned to winning ways with a dramatic last-gasp 2-1 win over Tampines Rovers, but the Lion City Sailors must now turn their attentions to yet another game of huge significance – an away clash against Singapore Premier League (SPL) title rivals Albirex Niigata (S) at the Jurong East Stadium on Friday (29 July) night.
While Kim Do-hoon’s men hold a five-point lead atop the SPL standings, second-placed White Swans have a game in hand and will look to turn the tables with a win against the champions. And the records suggest the Japanese side hold a bit of an advantage – the Sailors have yet to defeat Albirex in the league in seven meetings since their 2020 inception.
But attacker Song Ui-young believes things will be different this time out.
The Sailors have been buoyed by their win over the Stags and are in prime position to get one over the satellite Japanese side this time round.
“Albirex is a well-organised and compact team. They have many quality players, but we can beat them. Traditionally it has always been close affairs between us and we were unlucky on a few occasions, so we need to get the little details right to get a win against them.
“Everyone’s well motivated after winning on Sunday and the atmosphere within the team is superb. We have had five days to recover and that’s enough – we’re going all out for the victory on Friday,” said the 28-year-old.
A huge takeaway from the Tampines victory was the team’s belief, desire and unwavering commitment to go for the win in the dying moments of a game in which a third straight draw was imminent.
Song believes that bodes well as the league edges towards the business end of the season.
“We left it quite late to score the winner, but at no time did we panic or fear or have any negative emotions within the team. We were just focused on getting the three points and we believed that we’d always have a chance to score if we kept pushing ourselves.
“What happened in that game showed the spirit we have and it’s clear to me: we’re ready to give everything to win the SPL title again,” declared the South Korean-born Singaporean.
The Sailors may be facing disciplinary action for the unpleasant scenes in the last game against Tampines, but Song asserts that his team is fully focused on the task ahead.
“These things have already happened and if I’m honest, we’re no longer thinking about them. For us players, the focus is on our football and what we need to do. We are professional football players and we’re not going to allow things outside the pitch to affect our focus,” he said.
On the personal front, Song is looking to continue in the same vein and recent good form that saw him net three goals in his last five outings.
“I’m happy that I’ve been performing well. The understanding between Maxime (Lestienne), Diego (Lopes) and me is getting better with each game. It’s so enjoyable to combine with them on the pitch,” said Song.
“For me, there are no big or small games, every single game is important. We are motivated to go out there and do the job for the club – and that is exactly what our fans will see on Friday.”