News • July 15, 2016

The New Paper League Cup 2016: Holders Defeat Depleted Protectors


Written by: Ryan Low

A full-strength Albirex Niigata side proved to be too powerful as they defeated Home United 2-0 in their New Paper League Cup opener at the Bishan Stadium on Thursday night.

Tatsuro Inui and Hiroyoshi Kamata scored in each half settled the one-sided game as the White Swans went top of Group B, with Balestier Khalsa and Geylang International drawing 2-2 in the other game.

Missing a total of 10 players due to international duty, Home were forced to put out a rather understrength starting 11 – with 19-year-old Lionel Tan given his first start at the heart of defence.

The Protectors struggled to find any rhythm in their passing movement, with forward Ken Ilso cutting a frustrated figure upfront.

Albirex were patient in their build-up and eventually broke the deadlock on 32 minutes, with Inui left unmarked in the box to tuck in Kamata’s neat cutback.

Home almost hit back six minutes later when Shamil Sharif sent Ilso through on goal, but Albirex goalkeeper Yosuke Nozawa rushed out in time to nick the ball away from the latter.

Albirex then returned for the second half looking for more goals, with Naofumi Tanaka and substitute Kazuki Mine both forcing Home custodian Hyrulnizam Juma’at to stretch.

It was a matter of time before Naoki Naruo’s side find the second goal and they duly did so in the 69th minute.

Mine made full use of his 1.9m physique to knock down Tanaka’s cross for Kamata, who fired home into the bottom right corner from six yards out.

Credit to Home, they kept plugging away till the final whistle, with Shamil firing a snapshot from the edge of the box which gave Nozawa some concern.

However, it was Albirex who claimed the points on the night and got their League Cup defence off to a flyer.

Home United head coach Philippe Aw: “Looking at the players which’ve missed out today, we could have formed a first 11. We had four players with the Singapore national team and six players with the Under-21s.

“We knew the circumstances and we did quite well today, especially 19-year-old Lionel in central defence.

“The first goal could have been prevented; we got hit in transition after losing possession in midfield. We could have broken it down, but we allowed them to come. Otherwise we were quite organised in defence tonight.”

Albirex Niigata (S) head coach Naoki Naruo: “We have to improve more because we allowed Home to counter-attack a few times. We also had chances to score more goals.

“Of course I want to challenge and achieve many things for the League Cup. Today we put on no. 15 (Tadaaki Yazawa) who hasn’t played a lot in the S.League and he did quite well. He’s one of the new options for us.

“We have a very big chance to win the Cup so we’re going to try our best to achieve this objective.”

Home United: Hyrulnizam Juma’at (GK), Juma’at Jantan (C), Lionel Tan (Syahiran Miswan 72’), Sim Teck Yi, Redzwan Atan, Aqhari Abdullah, Haziq Azman, Shamil Sharif, Ambroise Begue (Yeo Hai Ngee 83’), Sufianto Salleh (Song Uiyoung 59’), Ken Ilso

Albirex Niigata (S): Yosuke Nozawa (GK), Mikiya Yamada, Atsushi Shirota, Kento Fujihara, Tadaaki Yazawa, Shuto Inaba, Kento Nagasaki (Masaya Jitozono 58’), Naofumi Tanaka (C), Tatsuro Inui (Kazuki Mine 58’), Hiroyoshi Kamata, Atsushi Kawata (Rui Kumada 81’)