Home need the points
A win over champions Albirex will boost Protectors' chances for an AFC Cup spot
HOME UNITED v
(Tonight, 7.30pm, Bishan Stadium)
Four wins in six, plus favourable results elsewhere, have propelled fourth-placed Home United into pole position for the second AFC Cup spot for local clubs.
Another win should edge them closer to the finishing line, and it all depends on how newly-crowned Great Eastern-Yeo's S.League champions Albirex Niigata approach this game tonight.
The White Swans have beaten Home United in all their three previous encounters this year with an aggregate score of 10-2 but, with just nine days to go before the RHB Singapore Cup final, will Naoki Naruo risk all his big guns for a league game they do not have to win?
It is a question of professionalism and pragmatism, but the Protectors have no such worries and have scored 10 goals in their last two wins against the bottom two sides.
Considering all these factors, punters should be practical as well and go with the team that need the three points more.
- Prediction: Take Home United to win.
HOUGANG UNITED v
(Tonight, 7.30pm, Hougang Stadium)
If Home United beat Albirex, it would mean that only the winners of this match between Hougang United and Geylang International will get to take their AFC Cup aspirations into the last league match of the season.
The Cheetahs have every reason to feel frustrated as they threw away the lead in this race.
In fact, in recent matches, they had taken the lead against Brunei DPMM FC and Balestier Khalsa, only to come away with just one point from these two games before their defeat by Albirex last week.
The Eagles, on the other hand, go into this fixture with better form and morale with three wins in their last four matches, including last week's valiant come-from-behind 2-1 victory over Warriors FC.
While Hougang have lost just two league games out of nine on their own patch this season, Geylang have also won five league games out of nine at away grounds.
Their last meeting at Hougang ended in a 3-1 win for the hosts, but the fortunes may change for this one.
- Prediction: Take Geylang International to win.
TAMPINES ROVERS v BALESTIER KHALSA
(Saturday, 7.30pm, Jurong West Stadium)
The problem with a season where the champions are decided early means there will be dead rubbers such as these, in which both teams have nothing to play for.
Like Albirex, Tampines Rovers will surely have an eye on the Singapore Cup final, and the Stags are already assured of a place in next season's AFC Cup.
Meanwhile, Balestier Khalsa were woeful in last week's 5-0 defeat by Home United, and they will finish eighth in the nine-team league regardless of results in their last two matches.
With both clubs operating on tight budgets for next season, perhaps the only motivating factor for the players is to put up a top performance to convince potential suitors to take them on for next season.
Fingers crossed, both teams should serve up a game of good football.
All things being equal, Tampines have the stronger squad on paper and should nick this one.
- Prediction: Take Tampines Rovers to win.