Tampines Rovers will take on league leaders Albirex Niigata at the Jurong West Stadium in a highly-anticipated S.League match on Sunday and Stags' coach Juergen Raab says his side is well prepared to earn a positive result and end White Swans' unbeaten league record.
The defending champions emerged victorious when the two sides met in the season opener in February. Kazuaki Yoshinaga's men have not looked back ever since and have continued from where they left last season, winning seven of their eight matches so far.
Albirex have benefitted from the in-form duo of Tsubasa Sano and Ryota Nakai. The pair has scored 12 of the 21 goals in the league. They are also known for the resiliant defence that has seen them concede only five goals in the S.League this term.
"It [Sunday's tie] is a great challenge for us, also because Albirex have been unbeaten since the start of the season. We [the team] have been together longer now, the development in the team is going up. It [tomorrow's fixture] is a good chance to show that we can beat this team, and add excitement to the table," Raab told International Business Times Singapore.
"We will be well prepared for tomorrow. I have seen the team three times, and I think will be able to stop these very, very dangerous attackers [Sano, Nakai]."
Tampines had issues with consistency at the start of the season, but the S.League giants have stitched a four-match unbeaten run. This includes a 3-2 win over arch-rivals Home United earlier this month, which helped them vault to the second place on the league table.
Ahead of their crucial encounter on Sunday, Raab wants his players to put behind the memories of the early-season defeat and focus on the job in hand. Notably, the Tampines went down as last season's quadruple winners came back from behind after being a goal down to win the tie 2-1.
The clash also saw the Stags striker Ivan Dzoni's goal disallowed in the second half and had three of their players sent off. Raab lashed out at the match officials after the hard-fought encounter and he was joined by Singapore defender Daniel Bennett to express his unhappiness.
"What happened in that match, I have said. There was too much influence from the referee, and we scored the second goal. The three red cards, there were not nice circumstances. Now it is important that we are able to beat Albirex, but what has happened, is finished. Tomorrow, we want to show that we can beat this team," Raab added.