Albirex has not played a competitive game for almost 3 weeks since the RHB Singapore Cup Semi Finals. The rustiness in their attacking play showed in the first half when the White Swans did not trouble Hougang’s custodian with any decent shot.
Naturally, Head Coach Yoshinaga was not pleased with what he saw in the first half. He obviously barked at the players during half time when he tacitly admitted at the press conference that he was a “little bit” angry.
The hairdryer treatment probably worked as the players came out running faster and upped the tempo in the 2nd half. However, Hougang refused to buckle and continued to defend stoutly.
The supporters were getting agitated at the number of chances we had to put the game to bed in vain. Our players, though, didn’t panic and continued to dig deep and dig away Hougang’s resistance.
Finally, at the 80th minute, playmaker Ryota Nakai struck a nice left footer to break Hougang’s hearts. It was just rewards for Nakai’s hard running throughout the game. Until the 90th minute, Nakai was seen leading the first line of defence by charging towards Hougang’s goalkeeper and centre backs whenever they had the ball. Nakai was deservedly awarded the Man of the Match.
Substitute Rui Kumada had a chance to sew up the game at the 90th minute when he had a one to one chance. However, he shot straight at the keeper. Albirex held on to the lead until the final whistle and took a huge 3 points towards defending the S.League title.
2 more wins in the next 3 games are needed for Albirex to win the title again. Next up will be Balestier Khalsa at Toa Payoh Stadium on 26 Oct.
Come on, White Swans!
S.League 21st Leg
【Date & Time】
Thu 19th Oct 2017, 7:30pm Kick Off
Hougang United FC
Jurong East Stadium
Albirex Niigata FC (S) 1
Hougang United FC 0
80’ Ryota NAKAI