Photo: Straits Times
Aide Iskandar is convinced that his Courts Young Lions side are getting better even though they are still looking for their first win in the 2015 Great Eastern Yeo's S.League season.
Having picked up just one point from their opening three games, the Young Lions had an excellent chance to get kick-start their campaign at the Jalan Besar Stadium last Friday -- only to fall to a 1-0 defeat against Harimau Muda.
It does not get any easier with a tough run of fixtures awaiting them over the next fortnight, starting with Wednesday's trip to the Jurong East Stadium to take on the in-form Albirex Niigata (S).
But Aide believes his young charges are slowly but surely finding their feet as they build towards the upcoming Southeast Asian (SEA) Games in June.
"I think our performance against Harimau Muda was much better than in the previous game when we were beaten 5-1 by Balestier," he said.
"One of our main focuses was to make things tight at the back and, for the most part of last Friday's game, I felt everything went according to plan.
"The discipline is a lot better, punctuality has improved and you can see the players are now more serious and focused.
"We must respect the opinions and comments coming from the fans because it is fair for them to be demanding results, but I just hope they can be patient with us.
"We are definitely working very hard and I believe this team has the potential do well at the SEA Games."
Aide does have a couple of new injury worries after captain Al-Qaasimy Rahman and Irfan Fandi -- who was deployed in the heart of defence -- both limped off against Harimau Muda last Friday.
Should they both be forced out of Wednesday's game, it would make things even more difficult for the Young Lions coming up against an Albirex side who have looked potent in attack this season.
The White Swans' triumph over Geylang International last Wednesday was their third 1-0 win in succession, but the scoreline failed to reflect how dominant they were throughout the 90 minutes.
In Atsushi Kawata, Rion Taki and Shotaro Ihata, they have a trio capable of winning a game with a moment of magic. And they are not short of supply with Fumiya Kogure and Hikaru Mizuno pulling the strings behind them.
But although Albirex boss Tatsuyuki Okuyama is pleased with his team's recent run of form, he insists they cannot afford any complacency.
"It's good for us to keep on winning but we also want to get better at the same time," he said.
"There is still plenty of room for us to improve.
"One real positive is how well our defence has been doing in the past few games. Now, we also want to get better in attack and put away the chances we create."
Albirex Niigata (S) Probable Lineup: Yosuke Nozawa, Mikiya Yamada, Takahiro Saito, Kento Fujihara, Itsuki Yamada, Hikaru Mizuno, Shun Inaba, Fumiya Kogure, Atsushi Kawata, Rion Taki, Shotaro Ihata. Courts
Young Lions Probable Lineup: Syazwan Buhari, Al-Qaasimy Rahman, Sheikh Abdul Hadi, Amirul Adli, Shakir Hamzah, Shamil Sharif, Safirul Sulaiman, Shameer Aziq, Shahfiq Ghani, Amy Recha, Iqbal Hussain.