News • February 21, 2016

Four-Star Kawata Downs Young Lions


Written by: Sebastian Lim

Albirex Niigata (S) maintained their winning start to their 2016 Great Eastern Yeo’s S.League season after an emphatic 5-0 win over Garena Young Lions (GYL) in front of a 2,371-strong crowd at the Jalan Besar Stadium on Saturday evening.

Four goals from Atsushi Kawata plus a Masaya Jitozono’s penalty ensured that Naoki Naruo’s side retained their place atop the league standings with six points after their opening two fixtures.

On the other hand, it was the Young Lions’ first defeat of the season after their shock 1-0 win over Balestier Khalsa just six days ago, as they were brought crashing back down to earth by the impressive White Swans.

With both sides keen on retaining possession and building up from the back, clear chances were far and few between in the opening exchanges. However, Albirex found the breakthrough just eight minutes into the game.

Exchanging passes down the left, Naofumi Tanaka set-up Daichi Ishiyama for a cross, which found an unmarked Kawata and the 24-year-old headed past a hapless Zharfan Rohaizad for the opener.

The White Swans could have doubled their lead in the 25th minute, but the woodwork came to the Young Lions’ rescue as Ishiyama’s effort off Kento Nagasaki’s free-kick crashed off the bar.

The hosts’ best chance of the game came a minute later, when Adam Swandi fired narrowly over the bar after a promising counter-attack.

A brilliant second-half showing from Naoki Naruo’s Albirex however, saw the 2015 RHB Singapore Cup champions duly rewarded with four goals after they came out of the break with all guns blazing.

Kawata doubled the lead for his side just 10 minutes into the second period, coolly slotting through the legs of an onrushing Zharfan. The 24-year-old was then rewarded with his hat-trick five minutes after the hour mark, as the Young Lions backline went to sleep.

It was evident the Young Lions were starting to tire by then and conceded a penalty in the 71st minute after a player was adjudged to have handled the ball in his own penalty area.

Jitozono then picked up the ball and fired his spot-kick into the back of the net with aplomb to make it four for Albirex.

The rout was finally completed 11 minutes from time when the fantastic Kawata popped up at the end of a Nagasaki cross at the far post to thump home his fourth and Albirex’s fifth goal of the night.

Garena Young Lions coach Patrick Hesse: “For me the first half was positive. We tried to play very deep and the players showed they can play with discipline so that’s a good thing but we (lost because of) the physicality of the opponents and also some mistakes we made which we will work on in training in the week.”

Albirex Niigata (S) coach Naoki Naruo: “We got the clean sheet and we scored the five goals so I think we played good football today. Of course, we made some mistakes but we can only improve. Overall, I thought we could show our style of football tonight.”

Garena Young Lions: Zharfan Rohaizad (GK); Md Rusyaidi, Taufiq Muqminin, Ashrul Syafeeq, Gareth Low; Zulfadhli Suzliman (Jonathan Tan 59’), Ammirul Emmran, Firdaus Kasman (C), Fareez Farhan; Hami Syahin (Muhelmy Suhaimi 69’); Adam Swandi (Darren Yap 73’).
Albirex Niigata (S): Yosuke Nozawa (GK); Rui Kumada, Atsushi Shirota, Kazuki Mine; Tadaaki Yazawa (Ryoh Kurihara 90’), Kento Nagasaki, Hiroyoshi Kamata (Tatsuro Inui 80’), Masaya Jitozono, Daichi Ishiyama (Shuma Miyata 80’), Naofumi Tanaka (C); Atsushi Kawata