Warriors unfazed by threat from Pennant

Kento Fukuda training at Woodlands Stadium last week. Though Madhu Mohana is suspended, Fukuda expects the Warriors defence to keep Stags star Jermaine Pennant under control.
Kento Fukuda training at Woodlands Stadium last week. Though Madhu Mohana is suspended, Fukuda expects the Warriors defence to keep Stags star Jermaine Pennant under control.ST PHOTO: DESMOND FOO

They hold one of the S-League's longest unbeaten runs. But if the Warriors are to extend their dominance over Tampines Rovers to nine matches, they will have to do so without one of their key men at the Jalan Besar Stadium tonight.

National defender Madhu Mohana will be absent for the big clash after he was sent off on his Warriors' debut in their 2-2 clash against Home United on Sunday.

After a dreadful 2015 season where the Warriors conceded a league-high 51 goals in 27 games, changes were made to their back four as they attempted to address their defensive woes for the new season.

And although the team will be without their new defensive stalwart tonight, Jorg Steinebrunner is confident that his charges will do just fine without Madhu.

"Defending requires team effort and is not a responsibility that falls on only one person," he explained.

Japanese defender Kento Fukuda, who will lead the back line in Madhu's absence, is confident his side can cope with both Madhu's absence and the threat of Tampines Rovers star signing Jermaine Pennant.

"Madhu is a good player just like the other local players we have who could replace him, like Syaqir Sulaiman and Hafiz Osman," explained the 25-year-old Japanese.

"We might face difficulties defending against Pennant in one-on-one situations but if we defend together, we should be fine."

And the history books do suggest so. One has to go back to 2013 for the last time the Stags beat the Warriors. But while a draw will be enough to extend the streak, the Warriors will be gunning for a win.

Their main threat will come from French striker Jonathan Behe.

The 25-year-old former, who has played both in France and Thailand, scored on his Warriors debut from the penalty spot. Often the focal point of the Warriors attack, if three points are to be picked up against Tampines, expect Behe to be in the thick of action.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 19, 2016, with the headline 'Warriors unfazed by threat from Pennant'. Print Edition | Subscribe