Singapore Cup • November 27, 2015
Supersubs Lead Albirex To Historic Cup Double
Written by: Nigel Chin
Albirex Niigata (S) had a pair of substitutes to thank for their 2-1 RHB Singapore Cup final win over Home United on Friday evening at the Jalan Besar Stadium.
Rion Taki and Kento Nagasaki netted minutes after being introduced into the game to complete the turnaround, having gone behind initially.
Taki earned the man-of-the-match award, scoring once and assisting Nagasaki’s winner three minutes from time as Albirex became the first club to complete a Cup double in the S.League’s history.
The White Swans had the brighter start to the game, creating a chance just after five minutes after Shun Inaba intercepted a loose pass and set up Fumiya Kogure, but the latter sent his effort straight into Shahril Jantan’s arms.
Nine minutes later, Itsuki Yamada’s cross was allowed to reach the unmarked Atsushi Kawata inside the box, yet the winger responded disappointingly by firing way over.
Home’s Yasir Hanapi saw a couple of efforts from range flying wide, with Stanely Ng doing the same when teed up by Azhar Sairudin.
The Protectors were dealt a bitter blow in the 25th minute, after a moment of madness from Fazli Ayob saw him sent off.
As Shun Inaba challenged him for the ball, the Home winger sent his studs straight into his opponent’s waist, leaving referee Ahmad A’Qashah with no choice but to show the red after consultation with fourth official Nathan Chan.
Three minutes later, Albirex had a golden opportunity to break the deadlock after splitting open Home’s defence, but Yusuke Mukai fired over even though he had all the time in the world.
Despite the numerical disadvantage, Home still made forays into the attacking third and had the best chance of the first half in the 36th minute.
After exchanging passes with Ken Ilso, Ramdani sent a curling effort crashing off the crossbar, with Albirex custodian Yosuke Nozawa beaten.
The second half saw the White Swans dominating possession with Home contented to sit deep and defend.
Kawata had a free header in the 59th minute after getting onto the end of Mukai’s cross, but planted it straight at Shahril instead.
Kogure forced Shahril into action with his free-kick minutes later, before Fujihara blasted the rebound over from close range.
It was Home who took the lead against the run of play in the 72nd minute however, with centre-back Abdil Qaiyyim popping up at the other end to score. Meeting Yasir’s cross from point-blank range, Abdil applied the finishing touch to give Home the lead.
Albirex responded by throwing on Rion Taki, and it worked a treat as the forward equalised within minutes of coming on.
Meeting Kogure’s corner, he powered a bullet header into the top corner that left goalkeeper Shahril with no chance.
Nine minutes later, fellow substitute Nagasaki completed the turnaround, volleying Taki’s cross from the left past Shahril despite him getting a touch to it.
The White Swans were able to hold on for the victory, winning their first-ever Singapore Cup.
Albirex Niigata (S): Yosuke Nozawa (GK)(C), Mikiya Yamada, Takahiro Saito, Kento Fujihara, Itsuki Yamada, Shun Inaba, Hikaru Mizuno, Atsushi Kawata, Fumiya Kogure, Yusuke Mukai (Kento Nagasaki 78’), Rui Kumada (Rion Taki 74’)
Home United: Shahril Jantan (GK), Juma’at Jantan (C), Abdil Qaiyyim, Sirina Camara, Sufianto Salleh (Ambroise Begue 76’), Azhar Sairudin (Imran Sahib 85’), Yasir Hanapi, Stanely Ng, Kamel Ramdani, Fazli Ayob, Ken Ilso