News • July 31, 2016
The New Paper League Cup 2016: White Swans Defeat Wasps To Create History
Written by: Shawn Lim
Holders Albirex Niigata (S) became the only side to attain back-to-back League Cup trophies in the history of the competition after defeating Brunei DPMM 2-0 in the 2016 final at Jalan Besar Stadium on Saturday night.
The White Swans struggled to create a meaningful opportunity for much of the opening half as they failed to penetrate the well-drilled Wasps’ backline, but still headed into the break ahead through Rui Kumada’s goal.
Atsushi Kawata then sealed victory for the visitors in the second period to help the Japanese side win their third League Cup, which is sponsored by The New Paper this year, and tie DPMM for the most trophies won in the competition.
With playmaker Paulo Sergio restored to the starting lineup after serving his suspension, it was the designated hosts who took control early in the match, establishing their tempo and threatening occasionally on the counter-attack.
Their first opportunity arrived on 15 minutes when Helmi Zembin drifted in from the right and laid the ball to Azwan Salleh, who fired over from just outside the box, before Adi Said was played through on goal minutes later, but shot straight at Albirex custodian Yosuke Nozawa.
Ramazotti carved out space for himself on the edge of the 18-yard box on 21 minutes, but could only sent his effort into the arms of Nozawa.
Albirex almost broke the deadlock against the run of play on 34 minutes when Tatsuro Inui played Kawata through on goal with a wonderful chip, but the latter shot into the side-netting after rounding Wasps custodian Wardun Yussof.
Kumada then gave the visitors the lead three minutes before the interval when he slipped as he shaped to shoot while under pressure from Abdul Aziz Tamit, but recovered in time to blast the ball beyond the reach of Wardun and into the top corner of the net.
It was a different Albirex side that emerged after the break and they soon took control of proceedings, coming close to extending their lead on 58 minutes when Inui stabbed his shot narrowly wide after meeting Kawata’s cross.
Kamada volleyed wide soon after when stretching to meet Mikiya Yamada’s cross on 62 minutes, before Wardun parried Kento Nagasaki’s close-range effort and Najib Tarif cleared Naofumi Tanaka’s follow-up shot off the line.
The Wasps had a golden opportunity to equalise on 68 minutes when Adi was played through on goal, but Nozawa produced a top-drawer save to deny the forward.
There were further chances for DPMM to pull level subsequently, but the match drifted out of their reach on 80 minutes when Kawata dived to meet Nagasaki’s corner-kick at the far post and headed the ball home to crush the Wasps’ hopes.
Brunei DPMM coach Steve Kean: “We are disappointed because we had the better chances in the first-half until they scored their first goal.
“With 20 minutes to go, we put in an attacking player to chase the game, but credit to the goalkeeper, he made a great save to deny Adi.
“If we had scored that, it would have been 1-1 and we would have been on the ascendency and pushed them a little extra.”
Albirex Niigata (S) coach Naoki Naruo: “It was a very tough game because it was the final and the first goal was very important for us because DPMM were playing better till then.
“We allowed them to create chances, so I wasn’t very impressed with our defending even though we managed to deal with the high balls as Kazuki (Mine) was winning everything in the air.”
Brunei DPMM: Wardun Yussof (GK), Brian McLean, Helmi Zembin, Abdul Aziz Tamit (Shahrazen Said 72′), Rosmin Kamis (C), Najib Tarif, Maududi Hilmi (Hendra Azam 72′), Azwan Salleh, Adi Said, Paulo Sergio, Rafael Ramazotti
Albirex Niigata (S): Yosuke Nozawa (GK), Mikiya Yamada, Kento Fujihara, Atsushi Shirota, Naofumi Tanaka (C), Rui Kumada (Tomoki Menda 77′), Shuto Inaba, Kento Nagasaki, Tatsuro Inui (Hiroyoshi Kamata 60′), Atsushi Kawata, Kazuki Mine