Albirex vs Tampines Player Ratings: White Swans edge Stags to kick off Singapore Premier League era
The league was revamped and given a new name for the season in the hopes of a refreshing look for the local game, but the first silverware on offer went the way of a familiar name.
Defending Singapore Premier League (SPL) champions Albirex Niigata edged out Tampines Rovers 2-1 at the National Stadium on Saturday night to clinch the 2018 Community Shield.
The game, which also doubled as the opening fixture of the rebranded SPL, was decided mainly by the smallest player on the pitch. Taku Morinaga scored one and assisted the wining goal.
Morinaga scored a penalty in the 59th minute past goalkeeper Syazwan Buhari after referee Muhammad Taqi penalised Jordan Webb for a dangerous challenge in the box as the Canadian looked to clear from a corner.
Mustafic Fahrudin would then equalise for Tampines in the 77th minute when he met Yasir Hanapi’s corner with a thumping header then got the crowd off their feet.
Shuhei Hoshino, however, would have the final say in deciding the outcome of the match when he was put through on goal by Morinaga and finished smartly past Syazwan with just one minute left on the clock.
So how did both sets of players fare?
Yosuke Nozawa 6
The Japanese goalkeeper had little to do in the match especially in a first 45 minutes, where the Stags failed to take any shot on target. Would have been disappointed to concede a goal from set-piece but there are not many goalkeepers who would have been able to stop the header from Mustafic.
Shun Kumagai 7
The lanky centre-back kept his game simple and left most of the ball playing to his fellow centre-back. Kumagai has pace to burn as well and his height gives him an advantage in the air. It will be definitely tough for any striker in the league to get the better of him this season.
Kaishu Yamazaki 7
The centre-back looked to play long diagonal balls out wide whenever he could and he was accurate as well. Albirex have traditionally always been a team to play out from the back so it will be interesting to see if the coach will ask Yamazaki to curb the tendency to go long. Defensive wise, Yamazaki barely put a foot wrong.
Riku Moriyasu 6
The right-back was decent today and like the other full-back, didn’t get forward as much as Albirex full-backs of previous years were used to doing. His crossing was also a let down on the occasions he did get forward.
Kenya Takahashi 6
The left-back was decent in his first game for Albirex but was modest in going forward. Was the designated set-piece taker for the Japanese side but failed to make use of them.
Daiko Asaoka 6
Sat beside captain Murofushi in central midfield and kept his play very simple. He seems to be the destroyer in the side but didn’t really do that today as Tampines often bypassed him in midfield.
Hiroyoshi Kamata 6
Given his performances last season, Kamata would have been disappointed with today’s outing. Starting on left midfield, Kamata failed to get the better of Irwan Shah out on the flank.
Taku Morinaga 9
The man-of-the-match in the season opener, Morinaga was the smallest man on the pitch but turned in a big performance to help Albirex clinch their first silverware of the season. Morinaga was always looking to run in behind the Tampines defence and his through ball for the winning goal was simply sublime. Based on this performance, Morinaga could well meet the 20-goal target that he has set this season.
Ryujiro Yamanaka 5
Came off in the 52nd minute after what was a listless performance from him. The left-footed winger looked to cut in from the right flank on every occasion but failed to make any real impact.
Wataru Murofushi 7
The captain was the leader in the middle of the park for Albirex and put in a performance that suggests that he will be the key player for them this season. A good passer of the ball as seen from today’s match, most of the plays went through him.
Shuhei Hoshino 8
The lead striker for the team, Hoshino came through with the winning goal for Albirex with a well-taken strike from inside the box after being played through by Morinaga. He also put himself about well and challenged Bennett and Mustafic physically when needed.
Adam Swandi 7
The Singaporean midfielder came on in the 52nd minute in place of Yamanaka and was an improvement on the Japanese winger as he took the game to Tampines. The crowd were also buoyed by his performance and it was good to see Adam being really positive in possession. Good signs.
Came on too late to be rated
Flip to the next page for Tampines Rovers' ratings...