The White Swans took a huge step towards reaching the Finals of the RHB Singapore Cup for the 3rd consecutive year with a 3-1 lead over arch rivals Home Utd in the first leg of the Semi Final.
However, Head Coach Yoshinaga cautioned that the game has only completed the first half, with all to play for in the second leg at Bishan Stadium this Saturday, 30 Sep.
The White Swans attacked the Protectors from the whistle, with the aim of catching them off guard since Home Utd was playing its 3rd game in a week while we had a week’s rest. The plan worked a treat as striker Sano found space in the 3rd minute and unleashed a powerful shot which National Team custodian Hassan Sunny could only parry into attacking midfielder, Nakai’s path. Nakai made no mistake with his header to give the White Swans an early lead.
Probably the White Swans were too eager to build on the lead after the early goal. Shots were rushed and defenders were trying to push up front too quickly. Our defenders gave away a pass at the edge of our box at the 17th minute and National Team Winger Faris Ramli seized the opportunity to put a curler beyond the reach of our GK, Nozawa. Even Buffon could not have saved that, remarked Head Coach Yoshinaga in the post match conference.
10 minutes later, Centreback Yanagi was judged to have brought down Irfan Fandi in a freekick melee. Yanagi was given a yellow card and Home Utd was awarded a penalty. Upstepped league top scorer Stipe Plazibat against our impregnable wall, Nozawa. Bang! The penalty kick hit the upright and rebounded into Nozawa’s safe hands. The stands erupted with the missed penalty.
Play continued but the rest of the half was scrappy as both teams jostled for possession. The teams went into the dressing room 1-1 at half time.
The second half was all Albirex as Home Utd visibly tired after a long week. The 2nd goal at the 57th minute was a team goal in an counter attacking situation. Nakai won the ball in midfield and made a crossfield pass to right back Menda, who sprinted to the left wing, Left back Tanaka made an overlapping run taking a defender with him. Seeing Sano and No. 8 Kamata darting into the penalty box, Menda decided not to use Tanaka and switched the ball to his right leg to make a teasing cross to Kamata. Kamata glanced at the cross and made enough connection to get the ball passed the outstretched hand of Hassan Sunny. 2-1. We took the lead again.
In the 76th minute, Irfan fouled Kamata the edge of the penalty box and the referee awarded a free kick. This was Kento’s time, as the whole stadium geared up for a Kento’s specialty freekick again. Duly delivered he did! 3-1.
The game petered out after that with some half chances for Albirex forwards Sano and Sakamoto, who rushed their shots.
The final score is 3-1 and it is a good lead we will take to Bishan Stadium.
Let us finish the job there.