SINGAPORE PREMIER LEAGUE
Albirex Niigata v Tampines Rovers
Jurong East, 5.30pm
There is little more than pride on the line when Tampines Rovers visit Albirex Niigata in their Singapore Premier League (SPL) clash.
A win today, followed by another against second-from-bottom Young Lions on Wednesday, will be enough to secure Albirex the championship, if Tampines also lose to Brunei DPMM in Bandar Seri Begawan on the same day.
This, however, also means that the Tampines players are fired up to prove a point. Said Stags striker Fazrul Nawaz: "We've not completely given up on the title, but we know our chance of catching Albirex is very slim now.
"Nevertheless, the boys will go all out to beat Albirex in this coming game. We want to be the ones to do it. That's on everyone's minds."
OTHER SPL FIXTURES
Young Lions v Hougang,
Jalan Besar, 5.30pm
Home v Balestier, Bishan;
Geylang v Warriors, Bedok - both 5.30pm
Brunei DPMM v Tampines, Bandar Seri Begawan, 8.15pm
Albirex v Young Lions,
Jurong East, 7.45pm
Albirex have had an incredible season, winning all 15 games thus far. They have also won an astonishing 34 straight games at Jurong East. The last time they tasted defeat on their home patch was in November 2015, when Tampines beat them 1-0.
Stags coach Jurgen Raab admitted consistency was the key difference between his side and Albirex this season, but suggested other factors also contributed to the Japanese side's supremacy in the SPL.
The German said AFC Cup commitments meant Tampines and Home United - Singapore's representatives in continental competitions - often faced fixture crunches this season.
He also pointed to several controversial refereeing decisions in the first half of the season which he felt Albirex were fortunate to be on the right side of.
"But there is no discussion now, they have all but won the title," he said. "For now, we want to try and take at least a point from this game. We have to secure second place and start preparing for next season."
Albirex coach Kazuaki Yoshinaga said his side would be well prepared against Tampines, who he described as a "historic big club" boasting "talented coaching staff and experienced players".
He insisted his players are hungry to keep their dominant record intact.
"We will never be satisfied," said the former Shimizu S-Pulse assistant coach. "Current victories do not guarantee future ones. We have to keep improving."