Albirex happy, despite drawing with Home
Albirex coach satisfied with a point in their third game in seven days
ALBIREX NIIGATA 0
HOME UNITED 0
Playing three games in seven days is no joke.
So, even though his side picked up only a point in their Great Eastern-Yeo's S.League clash with Home United at the Jurong East Stadium last night, Albirex Niigata coach Tatsuyuki Okuyama was still pleased.
The goalless draw helped the White Swans leapfrog Brunei DPMM into top spot in the table, albeit having played two games more.
"Of course, I would have wanted more rest for my players, but I don't want to use the fixtures as an excuse," said the 39-year-old former J-League midfielder.
"Despite playing three games with just two days' rest (in between games)... I'm happy we kept a clean sheet. The point is good for us."
Albirex had to negotiate a two-legged RHB Singapore Cup quarter-final against Balestier Khalsa - which they won 5-1 on aggregate - in the week leading up to last night's game.
The Japanese side, who won The New Paper League Cup last month, are eyeing an unprecedented treble.
But last night's result means DPMM remain in the driver's seat in the race for the S.League title.
"We cannot wait for DPMM, or the other (title-chasing teams) to lose," said Okuyama. "We just have to concentrate on ourselves, and do our best in every match we play."
The game started brightly, with Home midfielder Ambroise Begue forcing Albirex goalkeeper Yosuke Nozawa into a good save after just five minutes.
But the match turned into a war of attrition between the two sides.
After all, Home were also battling fatigue as they also had to negotiate a two-legged Singapore Cup quarter-final, which they won 4-1 over Warriors FC. Last night's match was their third in eight days.
The best chance of the game fell to Home midfielder Yasir Hanapi, who forced Nozawa into a flying save with his long-range shot in the 77th minute.
Home coach Philippe Aw said: "To play so many high-intensity games in such a short time... we coped well.
"We had chances to win the game.
"Our game plan was to come here and soak up the pressure, and we knew Albirex were going to tire in the last 15 minutes.
"So overall, I'm disappointed we didn't win the game."
LAST NIGHT'S OTHER RESULT
- Geylang 1 Young Lions 3
- Tampines Rovers v Balestier Khalsa (7.30pm, Jalan Besar Stadium)
- ALBIREX: Yosuke Nozawa, Mikiya Yamada, Takahiro Saito, Kento Fujihara, Itsuki Yamada, Shun Inaba, Fumiya Kogure, Hikaru Mizuno, Atsushi Kawata, Rui Kumada (Yusuke Mukai 80), Rion Taki
- HOME: Shahril Jantan, Ang Zhi Wei, Abdil Qaiyyim, R Aaravin, Juma’at Jantan, Stanely Ng (Imran Sahib 80), Yasir Hanapi, Azhar Sairudin (Sirina Camara 70), Ambroise Begue, Kamel Ramdani, Ken Ilso
- TNP MAN OF THE MATCH: Abdil Qaiyyim (Home United)