Advantage Albirex in Singapore Cup semi-final
Coach Yoshinaga warns his side against complacency after convincing first-leg win
|ALBIREX NIIGATA||HOME UNITED|
|(Ryota Nakai 3, Hiroyoshi Kamata 58, Kento Nagasaki 76)||(Faris Ramli 17)|
For the second time in eight days, Home United conceded a goal in the third minute against Albirex Niigata.
And, as they did in their 1-1 draw in a Great Eastern-Hyundai S.League match at the Bishan Stadium last Tuesday, the Protectors clawed back to level the score.
But, at the Jurong East Stadium last night, they could not avoid defeat.
Albirex scored twice more in the second half to consign Home to a 3-1 loss in the first leg of their RHB Singapore Cup semi-final clash.
Albirex coach Kazuaki Yoshinaga insisted the tie was not over, despite his side's two-goal advantage.
"This match was just the first half," said the former Shimizu S-Pulse coach, while wiping his brow with a towel.
"The tie is not over. Holding a 3-1 lead means nothing in two-legged ties.
"Look at Kawasaki Frontale in the Asian Champions League. They had a good (3-1) lead over Urawa Red Diamonds in the quarter-finals, but still lost the tie (after a 4-1 defeat in the second leg).
"So we have to be careful."
Even as some fans were still taking their seats in the stands, Albirex, the Singapore Cup holders, took the lead.
Shuto Inaba lashed a shot from 20 metres which was parried by Hassan Sunny, but Ryota Nakai reacted quickest to head the rebound home.
Home, however, equalised in the 17th minute through a superb shot by Faris Ramli from just outside the area, which Yoshinaga later claimed "even Buffon would not have saved".
The Protectors were handed a golden opportunity to take the lead in the 27th minute, after Irfan Fandi was hauled to the ground by Yasutaka Yanagi in the box.
But Home hotshot Stipe Plazibat, who has scored 32 goals in all competitions this season, sent his penalty kick crashing off the post.
The miss would come back to haunt them after the break.
In the 58th minute, Hiroyoshi Kamata got the slightest of touches on a cross into the box, which saw the ball creep inside Hassan's far post to put Albirex back in the lead.
Then in the 76th minute, Albirex's free-kick specialist Kento Nagasaki sealed the win when he curled a dead ball over the Home wall and under Hassan's despairing dive.
Protectors coach Aidil Sharin was unhappy with the manner in which his side conceded the goals.
"The first goal was (conceded) too early, the same like in our first game at Bishan," he said.
"For the second goal, they just put in a cross which took a small flick, and the third goal... you know if you give Kento a free-kick just outside the box, he will nail you.
"So yes, all three goals were very disappointing."
Aidil said his side struggled last night after battling to a hard-earned 3-1 win over Geylang International in an S.League game on the artificial surface of Jalan Besar Stadium just four days earlier.
Yoshinaga also admitted he had set up his side to take advantage of Home's fatigue, and had targeted an early goal.
But Aidil remains optimistic Home can turn the tie around.
"We will be playing at home, and there's nothing for us to lose," said the 40-year-old Home coach.
"In the second leg, the pressure will be on Albirex, and I'm sure our boys will give our all because this is the last match before the international break.
"The only thing we can do now is recover well, and be at our best when we fight back on Saturday."
The second leg will be played at Bishan Stadium.