Singapore Premier League • November 21, 2015
White Swans End S.League Season With Victory
Written by: Nigel Chin
Albirex Niigata (S) prepared for next week’s Singapore Cup Semi-Final second leg match against Global in the best possible way by defeating Hougang United.
The 1-0 victory on Friday evening also meant that the White Swans still have a fighting chance of finishing on the podium as long as Balestier Khalsa fail to win against Brunei DPMM on Saturday.
The hosts got off to the best possible start, earning a penalty just 20 seconds into the game after a mistake at the back by Hougang United.
Fazli Jaffar lost the ball deep inside his own half and allowed Shun Inaba to thread it through for Rui Kumada, who was tugged back by Kunihiro Yamashita inside the box.
Fumiya Kogure then slotted the ball past Ridhuan Barudin from the spot for the opener.
The White Swans almost made it 2-0 in the 18th minute when Kumada met Mikiya Yamada’s accurate cross, only to see his header stopped by Ridhuan Barudin right on the line.
Despite dominating possession for most of the half, Albirex were unable to really carve open Hougang as the Cheetahs resorted to fouling their opponents in a bid to stop them and this resulted in a scrappy affair.
The second half was no different, with chances continuing to come at a premium.
Muhaymin Salim had a chance to level matters when the ball somehow found its way to him inside the Albirex box, but he could not apply the finishing touch.
Substitute Vuk Sotirovic sent a bicycle kick looping into Nozawa’s arms, before the Japanese goalkeeper pulled off a stunning save and tipped Sotirovic’s free-kick wide in the 63rd minute.
Three minutes later, Kogure sent his free-kick from a similar position crashing into the post instead.
Rion Taki saw an effort blocked by Yamashita, before Gama curled a free-kick inches wide with time winding down.
There was still time for drama however, with Faizal Amir receiving his marching orders for a second bookable offence, as Albirex held on for the win.
Albirex Niigata (S): Yosuke Nozawa (GK)(C), Mikiya Yamada, Kento Fujihara, Takahiro Saito, Itsuki Yamada, Hikaru Mizuno, Shun Inaba, Atsushi Kawata, Yusuke Mukai (Rion Taki 67’), Rui Kumada (Kento Nagasaki 82’), Fumiya Kogure
Hougang United: Ridhuan Barudin (GK), Faizal Amir, Delwinder Singh, Kunihiro Yamashita, Lau Meng Meng, Ruzaini Zainal (Diego Gama 79’), Tengku Mushahdad (Faiz Salleh 73’), Atsushi Shimono, Carlos Delgado (Vuk Sotirovic 51’), Fazli Jaffar, Muhaymin Salim