The Garena Young Lions will host Albirex Niigata FC (S) at Jalan Besar Stadium on Friday night (8 September) in their first game of the Great Eastern-Hyundai S.League in over two months. The Young Lions’ last S.League match came in July against Geylang International FC.
Several of the Young Lions players were busy over the break, having been called up to the Under-22 National Team for the 2018 Asian Football Confederation (AFC) Under-23 Championship Qualifiers in July and August’s Southeast Asian (SEA) Games.
The U22s travelled to Myanmar for the AFC U23 Championship Qualifiers where they played three matches against Myanmar, Australia and Brunei. They beat Brunei 4-1, but lost 2-0 and 7-0 to Myanmar and Australia respectively.
The team lost their first two matches in the SEA Games against Myanmar (2-0) and Malaysia (1-2). Despite fighting back in the remaining two matches to beat Laos and Brunei 2-0 and 1-0 respectively, the team was unable to qualify for the SEA Games semi-finals.
Illyas Lee has expressed optimism as they turn their attentions back to the Great Eastern-Hyundai S.League.
Although they come up against the high-flying White Swans, Lee is hopeful of putting up a good showing as they look to finish the season strongly.
“Albirex are the current leaders and they are the team to beat in the league,” said the 22-year-old.
“We are determined to put on a good performance and aim to get a good result against them. This will give us the momentum in the league and hopefully we can climb up the table.
According to Lee, preparation for this game has been going well under new head coach Vincent Subramaniam, who has was appointed just after the July loss to Geylang International FC.
“We have been training hard since returning from the SEA Games and although there has been a change in coach, we have had no problems adapting to his playing philosophy,” Lee shared.
“We played two friendly games over the past week against the U20 National Team and the Geylang International FC S.League team, winning both games. As such, we want to start this week with a good performance and show what the team is capable of.”
Up next for the Young Lions after this is a game against Tampines Rovers FC just three days later, but Lee is unperturbed by the scheduling.
“Playing the two teams (Albirex and Tampines) within the space of four days will be tough, but we are prepared,” he declared.
“We experienced this in the AFC U23 Championship Qualifiers and SEA Games so I don’t foresee it to be a problem. The team will be ready for the challenge.”
And Lee is well-aware of what the Young Lions have to do in order to get a positive result.
“We just need to have more belief, composure and heart to translate the good performances into wins,” he concluded.
The match against Albirex Niigata FC (S) will kick off at 7.30pm on 8 September 2017 at Jalan Besar Stadium.