Singapore Premier League • February 10, 2022
2022 SPL Club Guide: Albirex Niigata (S)
10 FEBRUARY 2022 – Ahead of the 2022 AIA Singapore Premier League (SPL) season, we take a look at each of the eight clubs that are participating in the 27th season of the domestic top flight. Today’s focus is on Albirex Niigata (S)!
Nickname: The White Swans
Stadium: Jurong East Stadium
Highest finish: 1st (2016, 2017, 2018, 2020)
2021 finish: 2nd
Chairman: Daisuke Korenaga
Head coach: Kazuaki Yoshinaga
Captain: Takahiro Koga
Singaporean players: Hyrulnizam Juma’at, Nicky Melvin Singh, Hilman Norhisam, Fikri Junaidi, Fairoz Hasan
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As is their annual custom, the Swans have refreshed their squad ahead of another new campaign and chosen to retain nine players from the side that finished runners-up by two points in 2021.
Albirex’s star man for the 2022 season is undoubtedly Tadanari Lee, the former Japan international striker who scored their winning goal in the 2011 Asian Football Confederation (AFC) Asian Cup final and turned out for Southampton FC. The 36-year-old’s arrival has caused considerable buzz in the SPL and he will be expected to lead and mentor a young side that includes promising local attackers Fikri Junaidi and Nicky Melvin Singh.
The presence of Golden Glove winner Takahiro Koga in goal will provide a strong foundation for Kazuaki Yoshinaga to build upon in his first season back at the club, having first held the reins in 2017. The 53-year-old famously retained their SPL title in 2018 with a historic unbeaten season and his reappointment is an indication of Albirex’s intentions to wrest the crown back from the Lion City Sailors.
Former Cerezo Osaka Under-23 defender Jun Kobayashi is expected to be key new additions in a side hungry to make an impression, while fans may want to keep an eye on midfielder Masahiro Sugita, who has represented Japan at Under-16 and Under-18 level, and ex-FC Tokyo Under-23 midfielder Kan Kobayashi, also a former Japan Under-18 international.
Squad (as at time of publication)
Goalkeepers: Hyrulnizam Juma’at, Takahiro Koga
Defenders: Tatsuya Sambongi, Keito Hariya^, Jun Kobayashi, Daichi Omori, Mahiro Takahashi^, Reo Kunimoto^, Tsubasa Kawanishi^, Shogo Toyomura, Yoshiki Matsuura^,
Midfielders: Kumpei Kakuta, Masahiro Sugita, Masaya Idetsu, Kan Kobayashi, Nicky Melvin Singh*, Hilman Norhisam*, Kanato Fukazawa^, Satsuki Mori^
Forwards: Fikri Junaidi*, Kodai Tanaka, Tadanari Lee^^, Fairoz Hasan, Shota Ochiai^
^Albirex are required to register at least four Under-21 players (born on or after 1 January 2001) of Japanese nationality.
^^A maximum of one player of Japanese nationality, without age restrictions, can be registered. All other players of Japanese nationality who are registered are required to be Under-23 players (born on or after 1 January 1999).
*Indicates Under-23 player (born on or after 1 January 1999) of Singaporean nationality. All SPL clubs, excluding Young Lions, are required to field a minimum of one such player during the entire first half of every match. Albirex may also include a maximum of five players from their Centre of Excellence (COE) Under-19 Team, either in the starting line-up or as a substitute, provided it does not contravene any of the other Competition Rules.