Unstoppable White Swans Romp To Victory
Written by: Phoon Jia Hui
Albirex Niigata (S) extended their unbeaten start to the 2017 Great Eastern-Hyundai S.League to six games after dispatching Balestier Khalsa 3-0 at the Jalan Besar Stadium on Friday night.
Hiroyoshi Kamata fired the White Swans ahead midway through the first-half before further goals from Tsubasa Sano and Ryota Nakai in the second ensured that Albirex kept their place at the summit of the table.
Albirex dominated the opening exchanges and could have gone in front after six minutes but Yasutaka Yanagi headed over from a Kento Nagasaki corner.
Nagasaki was presented with an opportunity to open the scoring in the 20th minute but he was denied brilliantly by Zaiful in a one-on-one situation.
At the other end moments later, Shah Hirul then saw his long-range effort tipped over by Nozawa as the floodgates opened three minutes later.
After Hanafi Salleh failed to deal with a cross from the left, the ball fell kindly for Kamata who made no mistake to poke it past an onrushing Zaiful.
Tajeli Salamat could have levelled things in the 28th minute, but hit a tame shot straight at Nozawa after taking down a pass from Shah.
Chances were at a premium thereafter with Ryuya Motoda’s effort on the stroke of half-time the only notable one as Albirex took a slender one-goal lead into the break.
Tajeli came close for Balestier two minutes after the restart with an attempt from outside the penalty box but it flew harmlessly wide.
The Tigers had another chance to equalise on 57 minutes, with Tajeli latching onto Aung Kyaw Naing’s through pass but his low shot was kept out by the outstretched foot of Nozawa.
Raihan Rahman was then denied by the woodwork on the hour mark while Motoda fired straight at Zaiful from the resulting break.
Two goals in the space of six minutes would however put the game out of reach.
In the 64th minute, Sano tapped home the loose ball from close range after Motoda’s header was kept out by Zaiful before Nakai slotted the ball past Zaiful to seal the win six minutes later.
Sano and Naofumi Tanaka could have further added to Albirex’s lead in the closing stages but the full-time whistle went soon after as the Japanese outfit recorded their fifth win of the season.
Balestier Khalsa Head Coach Marko Kraljevic: “Congratulations to Albirex, they were the better team today. When you are one goal down and you don’t score when you have chances, they will punish you - simple as that.
“Tajeli (Salamat) and Shah (Hirul) had good chances, Raihan (Rahman) could have scored when his freekick got cleared off the line. We have to move on and look forward to the next game against Hougang United.”
Albirex Niigata (S) Head Coach Kazuaki Yoshinaga: “It was a good game for us. We worked on improving goalscoring records and we managed to score in the first-half. We had difficulties finding the second goal but we eventually did and the best thing was that we did not concede.
“We have to give credit to the opposing goalkeeper (Zaiful Nizam) who had a good game against us but I felt the strikers have to work on their finishing especially in terms of precision.”
Balestier Khalsa: Zaiful Nizam (GK, C), Fadli Kamis, Hanafi Salleh (Sheikh Abdul Hadi 67’), Ashrul Syafeeq, Shah Hirul (Hanafi Akbar 75’), Tajeli Salamat, Aung Kyaw Naing, Raihan Rahman, Kyaw Zayar Win, Ahmad Syahir, Hazzuwan Halim (Nanda Linn Kyaw Chit 75’)
Albirex Niigata (S): Yosuke Nozawa (GK), Tomoki Menda (Rui Kumada 82’), Takuya Akiyama, Naofumi Tanaka, Shuto Inaba (C), Ryota Nakai (Shoichiro Sakamoto 72’), Hiroyoshi Kamata, Tsubasa Sano (Koki Sato 87’), Kento Nagasaki, Yasutaka Yanagi, Ryuya Motoda