Home United need miracle to catch Albirex in S.League race - Hassan
Home United and Albirex Niigata (S) will face off at Bishan Stadium on Tuesday night in a match which could prove pivotal in the 2017 S.League title race.
Sixteen points behind Albirex in third, a victory for Home in this game may just prove to be the turning point.
Coupled with the possible win over the defending champions, the Protectors can cut the gap to a single point if they win their four games in hand.
A positive result will also give Home the psychological advantage, as they face Albirex again in a two-legged Singapore Cup semifinal tie later this month.
Aidil Sharin's men have to contend with a gruelling schedule of four matches in 12 days. They will next face Geylang International away before the two Cup matches against Albirex to conclude the month of September.
Club skipper Hassan Sunny believes his side are up for the task of challenging for the double.
"We need to be ready for the next four games and try to get the miracle," the Singapore No. 1 told Home's official Facebook page. "This is football and sometimes you need to create that miracle for yourself.
"We want to end the month on a high. By that, I mean in a good position to fight for the title and the Singapore Cup and I believe we are ready."
While Home are recharged from a 10-day rest after a 4-1 away win at Brunei DPMM, Albirex have just three days to recover from their trip to Bandar Seri Begawan where they eked out a 1-0 win over the 2015 champions over the weekend.
To compound matters, top scorer Tsubasa Sano will miss out once again as he is serving the second of his two-match suspension for his sending off against Garena Young Lions.
The White Swans have yet to beat Home this season. They needed a late Kento Nagasaki equaliser to draw 2-2 in Bishan in April before succumbing to a 2-0 defeat in a televised clash at Jalan Besar two months later.
So coach Kazuaki Yoshinaga is refusing to take a victory for granted, despite his side on a run of 12 straight wins in all competitions.
"Our next game will be a very important one not only for us, but also for Home and the S.League," the 49-year-old said. "Hence, we need to prepare very well for the next game.
"We don't care about other matches; we just want to concentrate on the games in front of us. We will prepare for next match very well, that is what we need."
Kenneth Tan is a Singapore-based football writer on S.League and AFC Cup for ESPN FC and FourFourTwo. Twitter: @KennerveT