White Swans Beat Stags To Lift Community Shield
Written by: Phoon Jia Hui
Shoichiro Sakamoto came off the bench to help Albirex Niigata (S) come from behind to beat Tampines Rovers 2-1 in front of a 15,480-strong crowd at the National Stadium, Singapore Sports Hub on Sunday evening.
The Stags drew first blood through Ryutaro Megumi in the 36th minute but Sakamoto, who replaced Tsubasa Sano on the hour mark, had other ideas as he struck twice in eight minutes to seal the victory for Albirex.
With this victory, Kazuaki Yoshinaga’s charges have clinched the 2017 Great Eastern Community Shield and also the first three points of the 2017 Great Eastern-Hyundai S.League season.
It was Albirex who dominated proceedings, as they hardly allowed Tampines a sniff of the ball.
The White Swans registered the first chance of note after just six minutes but Shuto Inaba’s long-range effort was well-gathered by Izwan Mahbud.
Kento Nagasaki then curled a freekick just wide on 23 minutes before a nice interchange of passes down the left saw Ryota Nakai have a pop at goal five minutes later but Izwan was on hand to parry the low shot for a corner.
Albirex continued to threaten and Sano was slipped through by Yuuki Yamanouchi in the 33rd minute but Izwan was quick off his line to thwart the former.
Despite Albirex’s dominance, it was Juergen Raab’s side who took the lead against the run of play five minutes later.
Ismadi Mukhtar sent Ivan Dzoni racing down the right and the Croatian proceeded to send a delicious cross for Megumi to send a thumping header past the hapless Nozawa for the opener.
Yasir Hanapi could have further extended Tampines’ advantage just two minutes later as his dipping shot beat Nozawa, but not the bar.
After the break, Albirex should have levelled matters in the 48th minute when a loose ball fell to Nagasaki in the penalty box, but the midfielder somehow drilled a low shot wide.
Nozawa then pulled off an excellent save to deny Dzoni from close range in the 56th minute after the striker had somehow ran into the box unchallenged.
In the 64th minute, Tampines were awarded a penalty after Daniel Bennett was hauled down in the box.
While he converted the initial attempt, Dzoni was ordered to retake and could only send his subsequent spot-kick against the post despite sending Nozawa the wrong way from the spot.
The Jurong West-based side found themselves a man down three minutes later after Yasir picked up his second yellow card of the night and was dismissed.
Albirex equalised sixteen minutes from time as Sakamoto combined with fellow substitute Ryuya Motoda to coolly slot past Izwan from close range to make it 1-1.
The comeback was then completed eight minutes from time, as Sakamoto got onto the end of a Naofumi Tanaka’s low cross to stab home the winner.
Tampines were further reduced to eight men in the closing stages when skipper Madhu Mohana and Ismadi were shown straight red cards as Albirex hung on for the three points.
Albirex Niigata (S) Head Coach Kazuaki Yoshinaga: “For the head coach, the most important thing is to get three points. There are many players who are young and not so experienced and this win will put them in good stead for future games.
“I want to thank all the fans and everyone involved who made this match a success.”
Tampines Rovers Head Coach Juergen Raab: “It was not easy losing such a match with our playing style.
“I must say I’m proud of the team considering the circumstances. It was difficult but it was a good performance from our team. This game came two weeks early against a strong and fit team. It’s hard to start the season with such a defeat but I prefer to remain optimistic.”
Albirex Niigata (S): Yosuke Nozawa (GK), Takuya Akiyama, Yuuki Yamanouchi, Naofumi Tanaka, Shuto Inaba (C), Ryota Nakai (Shoma Kondo 90’), Hiroyoshi Kamata, Tsubasa Sano (Shoichiro Sakamoto 60’), Kento Nagasaki, Yasutaka Yanagi, Rui Kumada (Ryuya Motoda 60’)
Tampines Rovers: Izwan Mahbud (GK), Ismadi Mukhtar, Fahrudin Mustafic (Jufri Taha 86’), Madhu Mohana (C), Son Yong Chan, Ryutaro Megumi, Syed Haziq (Hafiz Rahim 32’), Daniel Bennett, Yasir Hanapi, Ivan Dzoni (Khairul Amri 67’), Irwan Shah