News • February 14, 2016

Albirex Signal Title Intent With Emphatic Victory Over Champions DPMM


Written by: Alex Weaver

Albirex Niigata (S) sent a very clear message to the rest of the Great Eastern Yeo’s S.League clubs on Saturday night after they shocked defending champions Brunei DPMM 3-2 at Jalan Besar Stadium.

Winning the Great Eastern Community Shield in the process, Albirex played with a very different style and system than last year. Head coach Naoki Naruo set his team up in a 3-4-3 formation and clearly looked to attain more possession than the team did in 2015.

The Japanese side began brighter and were first to threaten in the fourth minute from a corner on the right side, but DPMM striker Rafael Ramazotti was aware enough at the near post to clear the danger.

Albirex continued to attack with their wing-backs at every opportunity, but it was forward Kamata who registered their first strike at goal. However, his effort flew wide of the mark.

However, DPMM stood firm and created an attack of their own in the sixth minute when Azwan Ali’s good play out wide earned his side their first corner of the match.

But the 2015 Young Player of the Year delivered a poor cross which was cleared easily by the Albirex defence.

The Japanese side continued to dominate and finally found the breakthrough in the 16th minute when right wing-back Mikiya Yamada was left unmarked at the back post and he duly sent the ball into the back of the net.

The nippy Kento Nagasaki was a constant threat for Albirex, playing in a slightly deeper central midfield role than last year. The Japanese number 10 always looked to advance and dominated the midfield alongside teammate Masaya Jitozono.

Albirex doubled their lead in the 36th minute when Nagasaki threaded a fantastic disguised pass into the feet of Kamata from 12-yards out and the latter slotted the ball precisely past DPMM custodian Wardun Yussof.

DPMM almost pulled a goal back back in the 38th minute after Paulo Sergio played Ramazotti through on goal, but the lanky striker could only fire wide in what was a quiet first half for last season league top-scorer.

Needing a response from his side as they went into break two goals down, DPMM head coach Steve Kean changed things around at half-time as he moved Sergio closer to Ramazotti in a change of system for the second-half.

It looked to work to some degree as DPMM dominated possession of the ball after the restart and had better build up play, with the Sergio and Ramazotti finally combining well together.

In contrast, Albirex was more contented to sit back and defend their lead. But they showed their counter-attacking abilities in the 57th minute when a break led to a corner on the right side.

Nagasaki then whipped in the a curling cross and found defender Naofumi Tanaka, who flicked the ball on at the front post for Kento Fujihara to score from close range after the centre-back had made a storming run into the six-yard box.

Albirex goalkeeper Yosuke Nozawa subsequently gave DPMM a lifeline in the 65th minute when he completely missed the ball while attempting to clear a through pass.

The ball then found Azwan, who jumped easily over Nozawa’s desperate sliding tackle to slot the ball into an empty net.

Tanaka turned the ball into his own net in stoppage time after another failed clearance by Nozawa ricocheted into his path. However, the final whistle came shortly after, killing off DPMM’s faint hopes of pulling level.

Brunei DPMM coach Steve Kean: “We were poor first half and Albirex really controlled the game. The difference between the teams in the first half was that when Albirex had the ball they moved it really quick.”

Albirex Niigata (S) Naoki Nauro – “I’m not sure if we can win the league [at this stage] as it is only the first game of the season, but if we can show the performance we did in the first-half, then maybe we can win it.”

Albirex Niigata (S): Yosuke Nozawa (GK), Mikiya Yamada (Tomoki Menda 61’), Kento Fujihara (Kazuki Mine 76’), Atsushi Shirota, Naofuni Tanaka, Masaya Jitozono, Kento Nagasaki (C), Atsushi Kawata, Daichi Ishiyama (Tadaaki Yazawa 88’), Hiroyoshi Kamata, Rui Kumada

Brunei DPMM: Wardun Yusof (GK), Sairol Sahari (C), Brian McLean, Azwan Salleh, Azwan Ali Rahman, Paulo Sergio, Nurikhwan Othman, (Khairul Anwar 63’), Maududi Kasmi, Helmi Zambin, Rafael Ramazotti, Abdul Aziz Tamit (Yura Indera Putera 83’)