S.League

Albirex look like challengers again, after beating DPMM 3-2

White Swans issue title warning after blowing away last year's champions

SUPER SWANS: Albirex (above) delight the fans by winning the Great Eastern Community Shield in style.
SUPER SWANS: Albirex (above) delight the fans (top left) by winning the Great Eastern Community Shield in style.

ALBIREX NIIGATA 3

(Mikiya Yamada 16, Hiroyoshi Kamata 36, Kento Fujihara 60)

BRUNEI DPMM 2

(Azwan Ali 66, Naofumi Tanaka 90-og)

Before the season, some questioned Albirex Niigata's ability to challenge for silverware.

While the Japanese outfit won the RHB Singapore Cup and The New Paper League Cup last season, they retained only seven players from that squad and also parted ways with coach Tatsuyuki Okuyama.

Talk out of the Albirex camp was of a push for this season's Great Eastern-Yeo's S.League title, but few 
believed it.

Not any more.

The White Swans swept aside the S.League's reigning champions Brunei DPMM 3-2 last night with a display of impressive attacking football in the Great Eastern Community Shield, which doubled up as the first league fixture of the new season.

Understandably, new coach Naoki Naruo was all smiles post-match.

When asked if his side could win the S.League title, he said: "I'm not sure yet, because this is just the first game.

"But if we can show more of our first-half performance, I think we can.

"In the first half, we showed very good football and what we can do."

The Japanese side have always been known for being technically sound, but Naruo seems to have given them a directness that was missing last year.

Albirex were the S.League's lowest scorers last term, posting a miserable 27 goals in 30 matches.

They've already chalked up three, and, in truth, it could have been more.

The scoreline was kind to DPMM, who scored both their goals after uncharacteristic mistakes by experienced goalkeeper Yosuke Nozawa.

Albirex were irrepressible in the early exchanges.

SHACKLES OFF

Naruo named three central defenders in his starting 11, but it was far from a defensive-minded tactic.

The move took the shackles off his wing backs, who flew forward whenever the team had possession.

Right wing back Mikiya Yamada duly opened the scoring after just 16 minutes.

Attacking midfielder Hiroyishi Kamata doubled the lead in the 36th minute, putting the finishing touch on a fine team move which ended with left wing back Naofumi Tanaka whipping in an inch-perfect assist.

The White Swans made it 3-0 on the hour mark, with centre back Kento Fujihara lashing home from close range off a corner.

Just minutes later, DPMM pulled one back when 36-year-old Nozawa rushed off his goal-line and completely missed the ball, allowing Azwan Ali to slot into an empty goal.

TNP PHOTO: GAVIN FOO

Azwan, last season's Young Player of the Year, was unlucky not to net his second of the night moments later when his free-kick bounced off one upright and then the other, before it was hacked clear by an Albirex defender.

Albirex have many positives to take away with them, even after another Nozawa clanger in injury time - the goalkeeper again rushed off his line, only to smack his clearance into Tanaka for the ball to ricochet into his goal.

"It was just mistakes, and we can do better in the next game," said the 41-year-old Naruo, calmly.

"We did not let (DPMM) break our defence."

DIFFICULT

When asked if fans can expect more of such swashbuckling football from his team for the rest of the season, Naruo paused, smiled and said: "Yes... But all our games will be difficult.

"We will try to do better, improve and show more good football."

DPMM coach Steve Kean feels Albirex, who finished third in the S.League last season, will be challengers again.

Said the Scot: "I said before the game that we can't look back and think this is going to be the Albirex we know.

"I know they've retained seven players, but they've signed 16 new ones. And there's a new coach.

"So you can see the dynamics of the team are different to last year.

"But the fabric of the club is still there - they try and play football, they try to control the ball and they were really aggressive in the first half... I know they're a good side.

"They had a great season last year, winning both cups.

"And I'm sure, with the quality they showed tonight, they'll be a tough team to beat.

"But we showed in the second half that even against excellent teams, which they are, we can score goals, cause problems.

"I'm sure they'll be up there, but we'll be there as well."



TNP MAN OF 
THE MATCH


KENTO NAGASAKI (ALBIREX)

The Albirex skipper (above) led by example from midfield, providing an assuring presence in front of the backline and also spraying telling passes forward to teammates.


  • ALBIReX: Yosuke Nozawa, Mitsuki Yamada (Tomoki Menda 61), Rui Kumada, Kento Fujihara (Kazuki Mine 76), Atsushi Shirota, Naofumi Tanaka, Kento Nagasaki, Masaya Jitozono, Daichi Ishiyama (Tadaaki Yazawa 88), Hiroyoshi Kamata, Atsushi Kawata
  • DPMM: Wardun Yussof, Helmi Zambin, Abdul Aziz Tamit (Yura Indera Putera 83), Brian McLean, Sairol Sahari, Maududi Hilmi, Nurikhwan osman (Khairul Anwar 63), Azwan Saleh, Paulo Sergio, Azwan Ali, Rafael Ramazotti

I'm not sure yet, because this is just the first game. But if we can show more of our first-half performance, I think we can.

— Albirex coach Naoki Naruo, on his side's title chances

 

Kean: We will get stronger

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Tags: Steve Kean and DPMM

Biker Boy checks out Ducati's new rides in San Diego

Whether it is tackling city traffic or sweeping over slopes, Ducati's latest cruiser shines for its power and speed

1450131

It carries the name of its predecessor, the Ducati Diavel.

But that is all you'll find in common between Ducati's two new releases and its older model.

The Italian bike company's new releases in the cruiser market - the 2016 XDiavel and the pricier XDiavel S - are worlds apart from their predecessor, as this Biker Boy found out during a World Press Test last month in San Diego, California.

For one, they don't mimic the Diavel's riding attributes, which resembles the sportier Ducati Monster.

The new XDiavel line is uniquely designed to ride like a cruiser... well, allegedly.


LOOK & DESIGN

Ducati's XDiavel is devoid of chrome but is adorned with brushed metal surfaces. The six-speed, fuel-injected "technocruiser" maintains a low and long stance.

Its strategically polished 1,262cc engine is visually pleasing, and the twin-cylinder motor is now a structural part as it is attached to a trellis frame.

The choice of blackups the bikes' sex appeal.

But be warned. The miniscule pillion seat - exposing the beautiful rear wheel bolted to a single-sided swingarm - will not gain you points with your pillion rider. Clearly, the XDiavel is meant to be a one-man bike.


ERGONOMICS

You'll appreciate the wide handlebars. Unlike the visually "top-heavy" Diavel, your field of view on Ducati's latest cruiser is wide and uncluttered by the bike's instrumentation.

The riding posture is upright and the swept-back handlebars on both belt-driven XDiavels naturally suited my long arms.

The four-way adjustable forward foot controls also enhanced the stretched-out feel.

 

POWER & HANDLING

The XDiavel makes 156hp and around 129Nm of torque.

In urban mode, San Diego's start-stop city traffic became manageable as power was now electronically limited to 100hp.

No manhandling was needed because in full trim, the XDiavel weighs only 247kg - that is around 80kg to 100kg lighter than rival cruisers, Ducati officials reveal.

The XDiavel especially excelled when heading up mountain roads near Descanso, roughly 30km north of the Mexican border.

If you chug along in fifth gear in touring mode, the bike's healthy dose of torque will propel you out of turns without working up a sweat.

Engage sport mode, and you'll see the revs climb frenetically to the roar of bass-filled dual, upswept pipes.

Here is when it unleashes the full torque and horsepower.

It is also deceptively fast for a cruiser.

Bends are taken effortlessly by tipping the handlebars in their direction.

There is plenty of grip from the wide 240mm rear tyre as you lean close to the XDiavel's 40-degree bank limit.

Between the two XDiavels I tested, I would opt for the XDiavel S as its mono-bloc Brembo M50 radially-mounted front brakes bite harder and quicker.

I thought my test bike was slow exiting turns, until I realised the "80" on the digital speedometer was actually in miles per hour and corresponded to a speed of 128kmh.

Without a windscreen, the wind blast can be unforgiving at higher speeds.

The bike's hydraulic clutch lever also made my fingers a little numb after an hour into the 260km journey that was peppered with a handful of false neutrals.

What impresses is the XDiavel's range on its 18-litre fuel tank.

It achieves roughly 15km on a litre of fuel in sport mode and about 22km in touring mode.


TECHNOLOGY

The ride-by-wire XDiavel S receives the full Ducati package, rivalling its equally smart superbike siblings.

Among other electronic trickery, it has three riding modes, customisable traction control and cornering anti-lock brakes, along with launch control for lightning-fast starts.

VERDICT

Don't be fooled by its looks. The XDiavel smacks of laid-back cruiser charm but boasts loads of performance and power.


We use the X as the main symbol of this bike and the name of this bike because we wanted to cross the two worlds (Ducati racing and cruiser riding) in order to get the best of both worlds.

- Mr Stefano Tarabusi, XDiavel's product manager, on naming the XDiavel


The belt has an internal carbon chord exceptionally capable of keeping the tension over the belt life, (and has the) extraordinary capacity to carry power and resist fatigue.

- Mr Eugenio Gherardi, XDiavel's project manager, on Ducati's first-time use of a belt-drive on a motorcycle


FAST FACTS
MAKE & MODEL 2016 Ducati XDiavel and XDiavel S
CAPACITY 1,262cc
ENGINE Liquid-cooled, twin-cylinder
HORSEPOWER & TORQUE 156hp at 9,500rpm and 128.9Nm at 5,000rpm
PRICE Currently unavailable
For more information, call Ducati Singapore at 6631-8166.

Boy loses kidney after falling into manhole

Path opening was hidden by branches and leaves

LIFE-THREATENING: After falling into the manhole (left), Wei Teck required surgery to remove his ruptured kidney (above).
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Family treats after double prosperity

Two winners win $100 each in TNP Fortune Monkey Contest

LUCKY: Madam Aryani Mustapa (above) and Madam Tan Joo Tiang intend to treat their families to dinner with their winnings.
LUCKY: Madam Aryani Mustapa and Madam Tan Joo Tiang (above) intend to treat their families to dinner with their winnings.
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Confessions of a professional gamer

His life seems too good to be true. Mr Ho Kun Xian, 25, plays the game Street Fighter for a living.

Mr Ho, better known as Xian in the gaming community, is one of the top players in the world, having placed in the top 10 in more than 60 international competitions since 2011.

When asked what he finds most interesting about it, Mr Ho pauses a while before saying: ''Not only must you know your characters, you must also know how to read and anticipate opponents. No match is the same, and I like the challenge.''

He has his fans. Some go to extremes like the large-sized fan who wanted Mr Ho to sign his bare chest.

But not everyone he encounters is supportive.

Mr Ho recalls a man he met in Seattle in 2012 who asked him for an autograph in a black notebook as he was walking out of a competition venue.

As soon as he signed it, the man shut the book and ran away, not before telling him that he ''was going to die'' because he had just signed a ''death book''.

He admits: ''That freaked me out. I was a bit scared after that.''

The silver lining is that Mr Ho is never in trouble with his girlfriend over his avid fans.

''None of them have wanted to follow me back to my room (when I am) overseas,'' he says with a grin.

''Besides, most of them are guys anyway.''

Get the full story in our print edition (Feb 14).

Subscribe to The New Paper in print and digital at www.tinyurl.com/getTNP

'Don't whack people trying to do good'

S'pore Kindness Movement's Dr William Wan faces controversy again as he defends 'poverty simulation' exercise

EMPATHETIC: General secretary of Singapore Kindness Movement Dr William Wan. How many of us have friends - real friends - who are poor? So we have only very superficial contact. You don't know what they go through. - Dr William Wan, general secretary of 
the Singapore Kindness Movement
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instalife

Capturing life through an app

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Dip in number of S'poreans getting married

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MP Zainal Sapari decries outsourcing

'What have you done, Peter Drucker?'

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