210847847_4808407115840412_852065444636197384_n(Albirex Niigata (S) FC - Photo by Football Association of Singapore)


By Sadat Osman


After a dominant display at the Jurong East Stadium, league leaders Albirex Niigata (S) (ANFCS) put 4 goals past title-contenders Hougang United FC (HGFC), to come away with a 4-1 win on Friday evening (13 Aug).



The Hougang Cheetahs were weary coming into this tie, having lost 4 of their last 5 meetings against the White Swans, as they put 5 men in defence from the get-go. And while they looked sturdy, mimicking the play of Tanjong Pagar United last week — who handed ANFCS their first defeat of the season — it was an early set piece that broke them down.

Just 2 minutes after kickoff, Takahiro Tezuka launched a corner kick towards the near post for Reo Kunimoto who made an early run from the inside, to beat Nazrul Nazari and direct the ball into the net with a glancing header. It was 1-0 to Albirex.

As expected, the home side continued to dominate the game from there on out, with most of the possession. But the visitors did show some resolve with flashes of chances at goal that eventually amounted to nothing.

While Tomoyuki Doi and Nazrul tried their best to pull the strings for Hougang, ANFCS were always there to cut them off, leaving the Cheetahs chasing shadows for majority of the first half, which slowly fizzled off after starting with a bang.


Going in to the second half, the visitors came out a little livelier with Doi in the thick of things, alongside Afiq Noor. But ever too often, they gave the ball away too cheaply. The HGFC No.9 had the best chance for his team in the 74th minute, but his effort could only hit the side netting.

226625038_4808407352507055_878848947970225507_n(Albirex's Kunimoto scores  - Photo by Football Association of Singapore)


Onto the 78th minute of play, Kunimoto was on the scoresheet once again — this time from another corner that saw the Hougang defence fall apart for the 2nd time this evening. The ANFCS No. 25 was completely unmarked, as he took advantage of the free header to claim his double for the evening! 

234648403_4808408012506989_7853397438044154891_n(Hougang United FC - Photo by Football Association of Singapore)


In the 81st minute however, the White Swans gifted the Cheetahs a lifeline after Mahiro Takahashi knocked the ball into his own net while trying to clear a corner. Still leading 2-1, the White Swans continued their rampage and pressed on to extend their lead.

Although a little bit nervy, Kosuke Chiku did well to win the ball back in the middle of the park to release Ryosuke Nagasawa on the right-hand side. The no. 10 launched a cross to find Yasuhiro Hanada, who released an emphatic first-time shot straight into the back of the net.

233151204_231528795642588_4472551900863520052_n(Albirex's Tezuka scores  - Photo by ANFCS)


3 minutes later, Takahiro Tezuka put the game to bed with a simple tap in after Kuraba Kondo released a through ball to beat the offside trap, leaving Izwan Mahbud in a 3-v-1 situation that left him stranded.


The final 4-1 scoreline sends the White Swans 6 points clear at the top of the SPL table with 34 points, with nearest contenders Lion City Sailors holding 2 games in hand. And the Cheetahs sit in 3rd with 26 points.  ANFCS will next take on the Young Lions at the Jalan Besar Stadium on 22 Aug and HGFC will host Geylang International at the Hougang Stadium on 20 Aug.

Sadat Osman had a 10-year career in the publication industry, where he covered several beats including current affairs, food, fishing, music, and football. As the former chief editor at Goal.com and a fan of Newcastle United FC since 1996,  Sadat also had a trial as a goalkeeper at Tanjong Pagar United FC. But today he remains a frequent social player of the game, who fancies Lionel Messi. However, Sadat's playing style is unfortunately similar to that of Titus Bramble!