News • October 1, 2016
Title-chasing White Swans Handed Rude Shock By Warriors
Written by: Ryan Low
Albirex Niigata (S)’s march to the 2016 Great Eastern-Yeo’s S.League title was halted on Friday night as they suffered a shock 2-0 defeat to third-from-bottom Warriors FC at the Jalan Besar Stadium.
Ridhuan Muhammad and Jonathan Behe scored in each half as the Warriors replicated the 2-0 win when the two sides last met at this venue in March.
The White Swans were heavily fancied to win this game, but gone behind after just nine minutes into the game.
Right-back Madhu Mohana’s long throw caused all sorts of problems in the Albirex area, before Ridhuan connected well to head past a stranded Albirex goalkeeper Eita Kasagawa.
Albirex came back well into the game, but was unable to breach the Warriors goal on several occasions.
In the 12th minute, the returning Atsushi Kawata rose well to meet Hiroyoshi Kamata’s right-wing cross but the header came back off the crossbar.
Six minutes later, Tatsuro Inui found space on the edge of the area to curl a stupendous effort on goal, but the leather flew inches wide of the left-hand post.
Then on 37 minutes, Naofumi Tanaka broke free in the box after a half-cleared corner but his effort was well blocked by the alert Madhu.
The White Swans continued their cavalier approach in the second half, but nothing seemed to be going their way.
10 minutes after the restart, Kawata got to the end of Daichi Ishiyama’s left-wing cross into the box but headed just wide of the right-hand post.
Substitute Masaya Jitozono then thrashed wide from 20 yards out, before Atushi Shirota contrived to head over from three yards out following Inui’s inswinging corner.
Albirex coach Naoki Naruo introduced Kazuki Mine in the final 17 minutes, but the 1.9m hitman found little success against a solid Warriors backline.
The White Swans came the closest in the 84th minute with Inui lashing just wide after Yazid had punched clear.
Warriors rode their luck to seal the victory two minutes later, with Behe timing his jump well to direct home Shaiful Esah’s teasing left-wing cross.
The result blew the S.League title race wide open once again, with Tampines Rovers having the chance to close the gap between them and Albirex to just four points when they host Brunei DPMM on Saturday night.
Warriors FC coach Razif Onn: “The game plan worked very well for us tonight. After our last game (a 1-1 draw against Balestier Khalsa), we were talking about the players not showing enough in terms of commitment.
“Today we showed a lot of hunger and that we can play good football. The two headed goals were very fortunate, but that’s the luck of football.”
Albirex Niigata (S) coach Naoki Naruo: “The first goal was very big tonight. We wanted to score first, but we allowed Warriors to do so. That’s when we needed to change our game plan and be offensive.
“Today we conceded two goals to set-pieces and I want them to improve on that in the next game. I want the players to change their mindsets, to still be confident after losing this game. Like I always say, I want us to focus game by game.”
Warriors FC: Yazid Yasin (GK, C), Zulfadli Zainal Abidin, Kento Fukuda, Madhu Mohana, Shaiful Esah, Poh Yi Feng, Nikola Rak, Hafiz Nor, Ridhuan Muhammad (Hafiz Rahim 74’), Hafiz Osman (Hafiz Sulaiman 90’), Jonathan Behe
Albirex Niigata (S): Eita Kasagawa (GK), Mikiya Yamada, Kento Fujihara, Atsushi Shirota (C), Naofumi Tanaka, Shuto Inaba (C), Kento Nagasaki, Tatsuro Inui, Atsushi Kawata, Daichi Ishiyama (Kazuki Mine 73’), Hiroyoshi Kamata (Masaya Jitozono 60’)