Home United, Warriors drawn with Albirex in Singapore League Cup

Three of the top four S.League sides have been drawn together in the same group for the 2017 Singapore Cup.

Defending champions and winners of the last two editions Albirex Niigata (S) are joined by the uniformed outfits Home United and Warriors FC, and Hougang United in Group A.

Group B sees past winners Balestier Khalsa (2013) and Brunei DPMM (2014) together, along with last season's Plate Winners Geylang International and regional powerhouses Tampines Rovers.

The top two from each group progress to the semifinals where they will compete for places in the July 21 final.

Interestingly, Home, Warriors and Tampines have never won the competition since its inception in 2007.

While Home are eyeing a first-ever triumph, coach Aidil Sharin has hinted at giving fringe players a chance as they gear up for the two-legged AFC Cup ASEAN zonal final against Philippines side Ceres-Negros in early August.

"We're looking to take one game at a time and push all the players to play," he told ESPN FC. "The most important thing is to keep the team morale high and I don't want to over-promise results."

Hougang are viewed as the massive underdogs to get out of Group A. But coach Philippe Aw is fuelled by Tuesday night's surprise 1-0 win over Ceres in the Singapore Cup preliminary round.

"No doubt, it's a tough group with Albirex the champions, and Home doing so well in two competitions," the 39-year-old said. "But, at end of the day, we believe that if we work hard like we did against Ceres, we can get results."

Unlike 2016, when the Singapore national team players were away due to an overseas training camp, this season will see all clubs having their strongest squads available to provide a more level playing field.

"Of course, it's good for every club to have their best teams around and this is respecting the competition," Balestier coach Marko Kraljevic said.

"For us, the best team will play and we're not looking to rest players. This is the only competition left for us to win something so we have to focus for this. It's not a bad draw to avoid Home and Albirex... that gives us some chance to go into the next round."

Garena Young Lions are missing from this year's competition due to the involvement of most of their players in next month's AFC U23 Championship qualifiers in Myanmar.

The fixtures for the 2017 League Cup will announced soon.