Singapore Premier League • June 23, 2014

White Swans Stay Hot On DPMM’s Heels


Written by: Phoon Jia Hui

Albirex Niigata (S) romped to a 4-2 win over the Courts Young Lions at Jurong East Stadium on Sunday evening to keep pace with league leaders Brunei DPMM who thrashed Harimau Muda 4-1 on the same day.

The result propelled the Japanese side to second in the Great Eastern Yeo’s S.League standings on 33 points, five points behind DPMM.

Kazuki Sakamoto, Soichiro Tanaka, Kento Nagasaki and Kazuya Okazaki struck for the White Swans while Jordan Webb and substitute Shameer Aziq replied for the visitors although it proved inconsequential.

In fact, there could have been a fifth but Keisuke Ota’s penalty nine minutes from time was saved by Young Lions custodian Syazwan Buhari.

Just like in their defeat to Brunei DPMM the last time out, the Young Lions started brightly as they created the first chance of note after five minutes.

Sherif El-Masri’s powerful left-footed effort on the turn was pushed over the bar by Kazuki Kishigami before Delwinder Singh scuffed his shot wide from the ensuing corner.

Despite the positive start, the developmental side found themselves a goal down on 12 minutes.

Amirul Adli carelessly lost possession on the edge of the box, allowing Okazaki to pounce. The Albirex playmaker then slipped Sakamoto through and he took a touch before finishing with aplomb to net his 15th goal of the season.

Norihiro Kawakami almost made it two goals to the good for Albirex two minutes later but nodded over off Okazaki’s corner delivery.

Okazaki and Sakamoto combined again in the 21st minute but this time Syazwan dived across to tip the latter’s shot round the post for a corner.

Prior to that though, Sahil Suhaimi had seen his effort saved by Kishigami after twisting and turning in the box.

Albirex then went two up on 38 minutes when Tanaka rose to meet Okazaki’s corner before sending a header which found the bottom corner.

But Aide Iskandar’s side would reduce the deficit a minute later.

Latching onto a El-Masri pass from deep, Webb raced through on goal before firing an excellent finish into the far corner.

The home side continued from where they left off after the restart and restored their two-goal cushion minutes after the hour mark.

Off a cross from the left, Nagasaki dropped a shoulder and fooled his marker before driving it low into Syazwan’s bottom corner.

Okazaki then made it 4-1 when his header off cross from the left went in off the post before Shameer pulled one back with eleven minutes remaining.

A long-range drive from Sahil was deflected into the path of the 19-year-old who reacted first to the loose ball and he blasted it into the roof of the net but it was too little too late.

The result saw Albirex extend their unbeaten run to four games in the S.League but their hold on second spot remains uncertain as Warriors, Home and Tampines could overtake them if they win the matches to come.