RHB Singapore Cup 2017: Five-Star Albirex Trounce Tampines
Written by: Phoon Jia Hui
Albirex Niigata (S) took a huge step towards qualifying for the last four after a convincing 5-1 victory over Tampines Rovers in the RHB Singapore Cup 2017 quarter-final first leg tie at Our Tampines Hub on Thursday night.
A brace from Kento Nagasaki coupled with a goal each from Rui Kumada, Shoma Kondo and Shoichiro Sakamoto gave the White Swans a comfortable cushion. Shahdan Sulaiman pulled one back towards the end but it proved to be a mere consolation.
Tampines head coach Jurgen Raab made one change from the side that beat Brunei DPMM the last time out, with Irwan Shah coming in for the suspended Ismadi Mukhtar, while Ryota Nakai replaced topscorer Tsubasa Sano for Albirex in the starting line-up.
Both teams started the match cautiously but it was the Stags who shaded the opening exchanges as they got behind the Albirex defence on a couple of occasions.
However, it was the visitors who nearly got their noses in front in the 18th minute but Kento Nagasaki’s left-footed shot whistled just wide of Izwan Mahbud’s near post.
There was no denying Nagasaki though as the 27-year-old curled home from the edge of the box after he was teed by Hiroyoshi Kamata to put the White Swans in front in the 26th minute.
Albirex then doubled their lead seven minutes after the opener as Nagasaki turned provider, whipping in a corner for Kumada to nod past a hapless Izwan.
Undeterred, the Stags created a chance of their own at the other end in the 36th minute with Fazrul Nawaz setting up Ryutaro Megumi inside the box for a shot which was deflected over for a corner.
Albirex continued from where they left off after the restart as Takuya Akiyama glanced a header narrowly wide before Sakamoto fired straight at Izwan in the 48th minute.
Nagasaki would increase Albirex’s lead shortly before the hour mark when he raced onto a through pass and cut inside a Tampines player before finishing coolly into the bottom corner.
Despite the deficit, the hosts had a good attacking spell but failed to find a way past a stout Albirex defence.
White Swans’ skipper Shuto Inaba put in a brave block to deny Hafiz Sujad in the 75th minute before Irwan’s effort was blocked for a corner two minutes later.
Tampines then had a flowing attacking move down the left but Megumi could only head wide at the far post in the 79th minute as Albirex added another two goals in quick succession.
Substitute Kondo met a cross from the right with a diving header past Izwan in the 83rd minute before Sakamoto pounced on a defensive error to poke home from six yards out moments later.
Shahdan pulled one back for Tampines from the spot deep into stoppage time after Khairul Amri was adjudged to have been fell by Kamata inside the box. It mattered little however as the result left Tampines with a mountain to climb in the second leg at Jurong East on Sunday.
Tampines Rovers Head Coach Jurgen Raab: “I was not disappointed with the performance, only the result.
“Albirex were clinical, we were not - that’s the difference between the teams today. They had six chances and scored from five of them while we had a couple of chances in the second half which we didn’t put away. We also gave them too much space and made it too easy for them to score."
Albirex Niigata (S) Head Coach Kazuaki Yoshinaga: “I was pleased with the result but more so with the defensive performance today although there were quite a number of dangerous moments.
“This being an away game, I didn’t expect that we would win 5-1 today. In fact, we looked forward to playing this game as our opponents were well-rested and we had prepared ourselves well for this.
“But this game is not finished yet, it’s only the first half. I’m now thinking of our second leg although I have not thought about who I am going to play for the second leg.”
Tampines Rovers: Izwan Mahbud (GK), Irwan Shah, Fahrudin Mustafic (C), Madhu Mohana, Daniel Bennett, Shakir Hamzah (Khairul Amri 46’), Ryutaro Megumi (Jamil Ali 89’), Son Yong Chan, Shahdan Sulaiman, Hafiz Sujad, Fazrul Nawaz (Ivan Dzoni 80’)
Albirex Niigata (S): Yosuke Nozawa (GK), Hiroyoshi Kamata, Yasutaka Yanagi, Takuya Akiyama, Naofumi Tanaka, Ryuya Motoda (Koki Sato 77’), Shuto Inaba (C), Rui Kumada, Kento Nagasaki (Kenya Kodama 87’), Ryota Nakai (Shoma Kondo 81’), Shoichiro Sakamoto