Singapore Premier League • November 21, 2015

Okuyama Moans Over Lack Of Striking Options


Written by: Nigel Chin

Albirex Niigata (S) coach Tatsuyuki Okuyama lamented his side’s lack of a prolific striker as he summed up the team’s S.League campaign.

The White Swans have scored just 27 goals in 27 games this year. The inability to put the ball in the net meant that Albirex’s title charge fizzled out midway through the season, despite having the best defensive record.

Shotaro Ihata, a striker by trade, has netted just once in the league this season, while wingers Rion Taki and Atsushi Kawata have six goals apiece, the most of any Albirex players this year.

The statistic did not escape Okuyama’s attention, and the Japanese coach said: “Throughout the season, we don’t have a striker for this team. I need to talk with the club first of course, but we [definitely] need to have a striker for next season.

“First half, we played very well and score one goal. But without a striker, we couldn’t score the second goal, so that makes the game difficult for us.

“We still have to make improvement on that point.”

Okuyama however, was satisfied with earning a result that will help them prepare for the upcoming Singapore Cup semi-final second leg match against Global.

“Of course winning is very important,” Okuyama shared.

“Winning is very important for the next game, but I think today’s game was disappointing for supporters because both teams could not show good performance even though it was the last game of the league.”

For Hougang United coach K. Balagumaran, he was pleased with how hard his charges fought despite going down early in the game.

“Yes, it’s one of the best games they played since I took over,” the former LionsXII assistant said.

“They gave what I asked for. Usually, taking a team that’s in the bottom of the table, to  motivate them is not an easy job.

“It’s my first time taking a team in this situation. Today I’m fully satisfied with the performance.”

Balagumaran has also identified a key area to improve for the Cheetahs, although he admitted that he still has not decided on who to sign for 2016.

“When I took the team, the first thing I noticed was the fitness of the team,” he said.

“I can see they were struggling to keep up with the pace. If you look at Hougang the whole season, the games they played, usually they take the lead then second half they concede and from positive result they throw it away.

“If you lack fitness, that’s where your concentration lapse in the game. That’s one of the weaknesses in the team. We gotta work on that ahead of next season.”