MatchOfTheWeek

Patchy Home need to grind out wins to define season

Home United's Shakir Hamzah celebrating with Faizal Roslan after he scored the first goal in their 4-1 win over the Young Lions in the Singapore Premier League on June 6. The Protectors' erratic form so far and Albirex's perfect record mean their tit
Home United's Shakir Hamzah celebrating with Faizal Roslan after he scored the first goal in their 4-1 win over the Young Lions in the Singapore Premier League on June 6. The Protectors' erratic form so far and Albirex's perfect record mean their title hopes are gone and they are aiming to finish as the top local team.ST PHOTO: DESMOND WEE

SINGAPORE PREMIER LEAGUE

Warriors FC v Home United
Choa Chu Kang, 7.45pm

Home United will fly the Singapore flag at the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) Cup Asean Zone final next month against Philippine side Ceres Negros. But before they vie to be champions of South-east Asia, they have to survive a hectic and possibly hurting domestic fixture pile-up.

Tonight's Singapore Premier League match against Warriors FC at Choa Chu Kang Stadium is the second of eight games - including RHB Singapore Cup matches that have to be announced - that Aidil Shahrin's charges will play in July.

But they are looking beyond just surviving the month. Home want to use the packed schedule as a platform to climb up the table.

"There isn't much of a chance at winning the league, so our aim is to be the best local team, to ensure qualification into next season's AFC Cup competition," Aidil said.

Home are third in the nine-team SPL standings with 21 points, behind Tampines Rovers (28) and Albirex Niigata (39), with Warriors (15) in sixth.

Aidil said: "We need to get points against teams like Warriors and Tampines, and it will not matter if we play beautiful football. Fatigue will be a factor, and we still have four first-team players out injured, so what we need is to grind out results."

Sirina Camara and Juma'at Jantan are sidelined for the rest of the season, with Fazli Ayob and Song Ui-young still nursing injuries, but Aidil asserts that there is still a positive vibe at Bishan Stadium.

"We are looking to bring in another foreign player because Camara is out for the season, and that prospect has already given us an extra boost - the boys are more optimistic and the spirit is good," said Aidil, adding that a decision on the transfer will be made in about a week.

The Protectors, who beat Hougang United 1-0 on Sunday, face a revitalised Warriors side who have won three of their last four matches.

"They are a tough team with players like Jonathan Behe and Ignatius Ang posing a danger to us, but if we can shut them down, then we really have a good chance to get that win that we want," Aidil said.

"We've had to rotate players already, and we will continue to do that this month. We have injuries and fatigue will be a factor when we play matches so close to each other.

"But if we want to be the best local team, and qualify for the AFC Cup next year, then we have to get wins, especially in a packed July that can determine our season."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 04, 2018, with the headline 'Patchy Home need to grind out wins to define season'. Print Edition | Subscribe