Warriors' Ismail Yunos targets first win against Young Lions in S.League
Warriors FC defender Ismail Yunos is confident his team's attacking talent will cause plenty of problems for the Garena Young Lions when the two teams clash in a S.League match at the Choa Chu Kang Stadium on Friday.
Jorg Steinebrunner's charges opened their campaign with a 2-2 comeback draw against Home United in the uniformed derby, before their second league game against Jermaine Pennant's Tampines Rovers was abandoned due to an unplayable pitch after heavy torrential rain. They were humbled 3-1 away to reigning champions Brunei DPMM over the weekend.
A win on home soil against the Young Lions this week will get their title ambitions back on track, and with a revamped side that retained only four players -- Hafiz Rahim, Hafsyar Farkhan Hashim, Andy Ahmad and Emmeric Ong -- from last season, Ismail believes the western giants are beginning to gel as a unit.
"We have been working hard in training in preparation for our next game against Young Lions," Ismail told ESPN FC.
"This is a team that has come together in preseason and we are beginning to click as a team, knowing where each other like to have the ball. It will get better with each game but we need to pick up as many points along the way if we want to be in the title race."
While the Young Lions have had mixed results since the start of the season -- 1-0 win over Balestier Khalsa before losing 5-0 to Albirex Niigata (S) and 2-0 to Geylang International -- the young guns of Singapore football have shown plenty of progress and enthusiasm in their matches.
"As we know, they are a young team who have nothing to lose and we must work together as a unit to attack and try and secure that first league win to get things going. I am positive that the players are raring to go and I'm personally looking forward to this game," he added.
"They have good experience in Firdaus Kasman and Khairul Amri, but we shouldn't worry too much about them and let them worry about us instead.
"We have plenty of attacking options in Hafiz, Hafiz Nor, Nikola [Rak], Iggy [Ignatius Ang], Fazli Jaffar and [Jonathan] Behe. So we should focus and believe in our own chances going forward."
Warriors have also added former Singapore international Ridhuan Mohamed to their ranks, and the speedy winger will likely be involved in the match day squad.
It is in defence where Steinebrunner must find a replacement for the suspended Madhu Mohana -- the defender was shown a straight red against the Protectors in their opening game -- with Ismail a natural option alongside Kento Fukuda.
The 29-year-old veteran who has played more than 150 S.League games to go with his 18 international caps for the Lions also has a personal vendetta to prove that the Singapore football fraternity must stop picking players based on age, rather than on performances alone.
"Playing well and doing my part for Warriors is important. But my one aim is to prove to the Football Association of Singapore that age is nothing more than a number," Ismail said.
Jorg Steinebrunner's charges need three points to ensure their title ambitions are kept intact, but the Young Lions cannot be underestimated, especially with star striker Amri aiming to make his debut for the team after returning from injury.