Singapore Premier League • November 1, 2014
Warriors Seal Championship On Final Day
Written by: Phoon Jia Hui
Warriors FC were crowned champions of the 2014 Great Eastern Yeo’s S.League season after they edged Albirex Niigata (S) 1-0 at the Choa Chu Kang Stadium on Friday evening.
With Brunei DPMM falling 2-1 to Tampines Rovers at Jalan Besar Stadium in another game played simultaneously, Hafiz Rahim’s 48th-minute strike was enough for Warriors to pick up three points and their ninth league title since the league’s inception in 1996.
There was no lack of action in the opening stages of the game although it was Warriors who looked the likelier of the two sides to break the deadlock in an even first-half.
The first chance of note came after five minutes when Thomas Beattie picked out the run of Nicholas Velez and the Argentine cut in for a shot, only to see it go inches wide
Four minutes later, Velez came close again but saw his effort in the six-yard box blocked before Hassan Sunny was called into action to save from Kosuke Matsuda moments later.
On 17 minutes, Kevin McCann stung the palms of Kenjiro Ogino with a fierce free kick which the Japanese goalkeeper was able to push around the post for a corner.
Shortly after the half-hour mark, Kazuya Okazaki slipped Kazuki Sakamoto through on the edge of the area but the latter’s shot on the turn was well-gathered by Hassan.
The best chance of the half then came in the 35th minute through Velez who danced past a sea of white shirts, but he unfortunately ballooned his shot over the bar from six yards out as the scores remained goalless at the break.
Three minutes after the restart however, the deadlock was finally broken through Hafiz.
After Daniel Bennett had floated a cross to the far post, it found Velez at the far post who knocked it back for Hafiz to nod home what proved to be the winner from close range.
After taking the lead, Warriors then had goalkeeper Hassan to thank as he produced a string of excellent saves to keep his side in the tie.
Moments after the opener, Hassan had to be alert to push away a firm header from Okazaki at the near post.
The 30-year-old then denied Itsuki Yamada with a flying save after the latter had pounced on a poor clearance to unleash a powerful shot from 30 yards on 64 minutes, before going down low to parry Okazaki’s freekick four minutes later.
Despite throwing numbers forward in search of an equaliser, Albirex’s efforts proved futile as Warriors hung on for the victory which saw them dethrone Tampines as champions.