Singapore Premier League • March 31, 2018
Heartbreak for Tampines as Albirex snatch late 2018 Community Shield victory
Mdm Halimah Yacob, President of the Republic of Singapore, watches on as Albirex Niigata FC (S) captain Wataru Murofushi lifts the 2018 Great Eastern Community Shield.
SINGAPORE, 31 MARCH 2018 – Albirex Niigata FC (S) made it a hat-trick of Great Eastern Community Shield titles with a last-gasp 2-1 victory over Tampines Rovers FC in front of a boisterous 18,942-strong crowd at the National Stadium on Saturday evening.
With the match doubling up the first-ever Singapore Premier League fixture, Albirex are now top of the 2018 standings.
Shuhei Hoshino was the hero for the White Swans as he struck a minute before the end to seal three points and lift the 11th edition of the Shield, after Fahrudin Mustafic had cancelled out Taku Morinaga’s opener.
It was a scrappy first half with chances at a premium, but it was Albirex who came closest to opening the scoring. After springing the offside trap, Ryujiro Yamanaka dragged his shot wide with only the goalkeeper to beat in the 24th minute.
Meanwhile, the Stags struggled to carve out any clear openings against a Albirex backline led by Shun Kumagai and Kaishu Yamazaki, with lone forward Fazrul Nawaz cutting a frustrated figure upfront.
The second period was a stark contrast of the first and saw Canadian winger Jordan Webb come on at the break, while Adam Swandi was brought on for his Albirex debut on 52 minutes.
The deadlock was broken when Morinaga made no mistake from the spot after Webb was penalised for handling in the box.
Tampines captain Fahrudin Mustafic celebrates after scoring the equaliser.
The White Swans were then denied a stonewall penalty in the 65th minute when Morinaga was felled from behind by Irfan Najeeb, only for referee Muhammad Taqi to wave off the appeals.
The tide turned 13 minutes from time when Fahrudin rose highest to meet Yasir Hanapi’s corner and thumped a header past the hapless Yosuke Nozawa.
There was an opportunity for a late Tampines winner, but substitutes Khairul Amri and Webb were unable to make their chances count.
Juergen Raab’s side were made to pay for their profligacy when Hoshino latched onto Morinaga’s pass before finishing sweetly into the bottom right corner to break Tampines hearts.
The victors will travel to Toa Payoh Stadium in their next game against Balestier Khalsa on April 8 in confident mood, while Tampines have to regroup ahead of a clash with eastern rivals Geylang International FC at Our Tampines Hub a day earlier.
What they said
Albirex Niigata Head Coach Kazuaki Yoshinaga: “This is a significant win for us and I want to praise the players who battled for 90 minutes and deserve the win. We are always confident of our team and we knew in the second half we would be stronger and create more chances for ourselves.
“Today’s game has finished and we will now go back to training and reset, see what we can improve on from this game and prepare well for every single game till the end of the season.”
Tampines Rovers coach Juergen Raab: “Normally (when) playing such an intensive game at a good level against a very good team like Albirex, when you equalise, you think of reaching the last minute and going for a win.
“We had good chances but couldn’t score and made one mistake too much, so it was unlucky for my team especially the boys who worked hard, but we must live with the result.”
Albirex Niigata: Yosuke Nozawa (GK), Riku Moriyasu, Shun Kumagai, Kaishu Yamazaki, Kenya Takahashi, Ryujiro Yamanaka (Adam Swandi 52’), Daiki Asaoka, Hiroyoshi Kamata, Wataru Murofushi (C), Taku Morinaga (Kazuki Sumiishi 90’), Shuhei Hoshino
Unused subs: Shuhei Sasahara, Kodai Sumikawa, Ibuki Inoue, Ryutaro Shibanoki, Taiki Itsukaichi
Tampines Rovers: Syazwan Buhari (GK), Irfan Najeeb, Fahrudin Mustafic (C), Daniel Bennett, Irwan Shah, Yasir Hanapi, Amirul Adli, Safirul Sulaiman, Ryutaro Megumi, Zulfadhmi Suzliman (Jordan Webb 46’), Fazrul Nawaz (Khairul Amri 59’)
Unused subs: Haikal Hasnol, Madhu Mohana, Afiq Yunos, Shameer Aziq, Shah Shahiran