News • September 28, 2017

RHB Singapore Cup 2017: White Swans See Off Protectors For Advantage


Written by: Phoon Jia Hui

Holders Albirex Niigata (S) took a step towards retaining the RHB Singapore Cup 2017 after a 3-1 victory over Home United in the first leg of their semi-final tie at the Jurong East Stadium on Wednesday night.

Ryota Nakai had gotten the White Swans off to a flyer after three minutes but that strike was cancelled out by a Faris Ramli stunner midway through the first half.

Hiroyoshi Kamata and Kento Nagasaki however struck in the second 45 to seal the victory and hand Albirex a two-goal advantage going into the second leg on Saturday.

Naming just one change from their 1-1 draw with Home last week, the hosts got off to the best possible start as Nakai fired home the rebound after Hassan Sunny could only parry Tsubasa Sano’s fierce shot into his path.

The returning Sano nearly doubled Albirex’s lead two mintues after the opener but his effort from inside the box flew narrowly wide.

But Home would level matters on 17 minutes with Faris bending an unstoppable shot which flew past a hapless Yosuke Nozawa and into the top corner.

The Protectors were presented with a chance to go in front in the 27th minute when a penalty was awarded after defender Irfan Fandi was brought down in the box by Yasutaka Yanagi.

Stipe Plazibat then stepped up but the Croatian saw his spotkick come off the post before Nozawa collected the loose ball.

The rest of the first half petered out as the two teams went into the break without nothing between them.

Albirex came out of the restart with all guns blazing and could have gone ahead again in the 47th minute but Nakai saw his low shot pushed away by Hassan.

The White Swans would however restore their one-goal lead ten minutes later when Hiroyoshi Kamata’s left-wing cross eluded everyone in the box before creeping into Hassan’s near post.

Home head coach Aidil Sharin went for the broke, replacing Shamil Sharif with Marijan Suto in the 72nd minute.

But the Protectors found themselves further behind 15 minutes from time instead.

After Kamata was fouled by Irfan on the edge of the box, Nagasaki proceeded to bend home a sublime freekick which went over the wall before finding the bottom corner.

Home piled on the pressure in the closing stages but were unable to find a way past a stout Albirex defence led by Yanagi and Takuya Akiyama, leaving them with all to do in the return leg at Bishan.

The result meanwhile extended Albirex’s formidable home record at Jurong East to 26 games without losing or drawing a single game.

Albirex Niigata (S) Head Coach Kazuaki Yoshinaga: “This is just the first half and the tie is not finished yet. We have to prepare well for the second leg and keep fighting on. I have watched many matches, both locally and internationally – holding a two goal lead means nothing in football.

“Even (Gianluigi) Buffon wouldn’t have stoped that Faris goal. That shows that Home has good players in their team and we cannot let our guard down.

“But my players did well to execute the game plan I had for them. Most of my players are still very young and they have a lot of room to grow. If they work hard and continue this, they can do very well against Home and any other opposition that come their way.”

Home United Head Coach Aidil Sharin: “The performance was alright from the boys, but the three goals we conceded today were disappointing. If you allow Kento Nagasaki that kind of freekick especially, he will punish you because he is capable of scoring from that range.

“As the coach, I will take responsibility for the result. The only thing we can do now is to fight back, recover and be at our best on Saturday.

“In football, anything can happen. We are going to play at home, we won’t sit back because we have nothing to lose and the pressure will be on Albirex. We have to learn from this; if we take things too easily, we are going to get punished. Hopefully there will be no repeat of this in the second leg.”

Albirex Niigata (S): Yosuke Nozawa (GK), Tomoki Menda, Yasutaka Yanagi, Takuya Akiyama, Naofumi Tanaka, Shoichiro Sakamoto (Shoma Kondo 90’), Hiroyoshi Kamata, Shuto Inaba (C), Kento Nagasaki, Ryota Nakai (Koki Sato 90’), Tsubasa Sano (Rui Kumada 85’)

Home United: Hassan Sunny (GK, C), Juma’at Jantan, Irfan Fandi, Hariss Harun, Sufianto Salleh, Shamil Sharif (Marijan Suto 72’), Song Uiyoung (Iqram Rifqi 80’), Izzdin Shafiq, Adam Swandi, Faris Ramli, Stipe Plazibat