Albirex coach slams team for worst performance of season despite 5-1 win

Albirex Niigata FC (S) maintained their perfect streak in the Singapore Premier League (SPL) with a 5-1 win over Young Lions on Wednesday but not before a brief scare.

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Despite entering the match at Jurong East Stadium as huge favourites, Albirex fell behind shortly after the half-hour mark courtesy of a clinical strike by Hami Syahin.

However, goals by Kenya Takahashi and Taku Morinaga had the deficit overturned by half-time.

From then on, the hosts were unlikely to relinquish their grip on the contest and further strikes by Shuhei Hoshino, Morinaga and Daiki Asaoka sealed a 17th consecutive win of the campaign for the White Swans.

It initially looked as though the league leaders would be cruising to a routine win as they controlled proceedings from the opening whistle.

They came close to opening the scoring in the 19th minute when Takahashi lined up a free-kick on the edge of the box and whipped a low curler towards goal but Zharfan Rohaizad did well to parry it to safety.

Nonetheless, against the run of play, Young Lions drew first blood in the 33rd minute when Zulqarnaen Suzliman’s right-wing cross found Hami, who did brilliantly to bring it down into his stride before guiding a volley over Yosuke Nozawa.

Still, their lead lasted barely more than a minute as Albirex produced an immediate reply when Takahashi found space down the left and tried his luck from all of 30 yards.

Despite the effort being straight at Zharfan, he failed to catch it cleanly and could only watch on in horror as the ball skimmed off his arms and into the back of the net.

Seven minutes before the break, Albirex found themselves ahead in an unlikely manner as a first-time delivery by Riku Moriyasu fell perfectly on the head of Morinaga – the smallest man on the field – who perfectly guided a glancing header into the bottom corner.

A third goal arrived for the hosts in the 70th minute and the outstanding Takahashi was once again involved, playing a 50-yard pass from inside his own half over the static Young Lions defence for Hoshino to race onto and finish past Zharfan.

Nine minutes later, Albirex’s Singaporean star Adam Swandi came back to haunt his former team with a lovely reverse pass on the edge of the area to release Morinaga, who made no mistake in slotting home for his second goal of the evening.

And, in the final minute, the rout was completed when Daiki Asaoka was afforded too much space and proceeded to lash a speculative 20-yard effort past Zharfan at the near post. 

Young Lions Head Coach Fandi Ahmad: “Obviously we are disappointed because we wanted to hold them in the first half you know. In four minutes, they scored two goals and it was because on our side, we lost concentration.

“We had good discipline and we did our best until the 37 minute. After the first goal, we crumbled, as they lost a bit of confidence in the last five minutes if the first half. The boys did very well but they struggled, and of course they will struggle here. In the second half they really stretched us. We lost to a better team and congratulations to them, they deserve it even though it was tight.

“It’s a disappointment because the boys played better in the last few games. We knew we could lose or only draw, but to lose at this scoreline is quite disappointing, the score doesn’t tell the true story. We will try again and fight another day.”

“I don’t think our local teams can match them at the moment. They are not even drawing games. I’m sure they will retain the title, throughout the year they have been the best so far. “

Albirex Niigata FC (S) Head Coach Kazuaki Yoshinaga: “Tonight match was our worst performance this season so we have to change our mindset and improve our performance so that we will never have such a performance again, that’s it.

“If we have this kind of bad matches, we don’t have a future. We have to be professional and we have to do what we can do. That’s all for today, we are going to prepare again for our next matches.”

ALBIREX NIIGATA (S): Yosuke Nozawa, Riku Moriyasu, Shuhei Sasahara, Shun Kumagai, Kenya Takahashi, Daiki Asaoka, Hiroyoshi Kamata, Ryujiro Yamanaka, Taku Morinaga, Adam Swandi, Shuhei Hoshino.

YOUNG LIONS: Zharfan Rohaizad, Jacob Mahler, Amer Hakeem (Nazhiim Harman 74’), R. Aaravin, Zulqarnaen Suzliman, Syed Firdaus, Rusyaidi Salime (Ikhsan Fandi 69’), Syahrul Sazali, Joshua Pereira, Haiqal Pashia, Hami Syahin.