SPL : Tanjong Pagar United end Albirex Niigata's 13-match unbeaten league streak with 2-1 win!
(Tanjong Pagar United FC - Photo By Football Association of Singapore)
By Sadat Osman
A dogged defensive display saw Tanjong Pagar United FC (TPUFC) stun the defending champions Albirex Niigata (S) (ANFCS) 2-1 in the Singapore Premier League! The win at the Jurong East Stadium on Friday night (6 Aug), was the 1st for the Jaguars against the White Swans in 17 attempts.
At home, Albirex kicked off the proceedings with a lions share of the possession, as they led the way with their quick tempo of passing and movement. The Jaguars were more than happy to sit back and soak up the pressure, while trying to hit them on the counter-attack.
It was clear that Coach Hasrin Jailani was aware of the Japanese threat, and he made it known to his forces - who were a little nervous on the ball — giving it away needlessly, and at times, misplacing their passes. Despite the setbacks faced by the visiting side for the evening, they managed to close down ANFCS’ attacks well, forcing them to play the ball backwards or switch plays on multiple occasions.
(Reo Nishiguchi - Photo By Tanjong Pagar United FC)
The home side created a lot of chances, but they were the first to concede when the Jaguars finally managed to string a few completed passes together on the right-hand side. In the 33rd minute, Reo Nishiguchi picked up a cross from Fathullah Rahmat after he shrugged off pressure from Yu Tokiwa. The No. 9 controlled the ball and moved it into space before he shot past Takahiro Koga in between the sticks to score his 6th goal of the season.
Despite the lead, it was back to square one as TPUFC continued to fend off Albirex's attacking plays from all angles. The home side did get close on a couple of occasions, but the Jaguars were simply too tough to break down. Halftime time score was 1-0 to the Jags.
(Photo by Football Association of Singapore)
The 2nd half began in the same fashion as the first, as the Jaguars were constantly on the backfoot. The White Swans still looked like they had no viable options — they were forcefully switching the ball from one side to another and played the negative passes.
While Kuraba Kondo’s introduction at the start of the second 45 didn’t have much impact, the arrival of Luiz Junior in the 64th made a big difference for TPUFC. His strength shined through as he did well to hold the ball, despite being challenged by more than one Albirex player on several occasions.
(Shuya Yamashita - Photo by Football Association of Singapore)
The home side’s constant pressure however, finally paid off when they took advantage of their umpteenth corner. Ten minutes from time, Takahiro Tezuka sent a ball into the box to find an unmarked Shuya Yamashita to head the ball home for the 1-1 equalizer.
(Luiz Junior scores 2-1 - Photo By Tanjong Pagar United FC)
After the leveler, it looked like the game was going the White Swans’ way. But against the run of play, the Jaguars shockingly took the lead again — this time via Junior just 4 minutes later. The Brazilian did well to beat Yamashita’s challenge, and when he did, he spotted Koga way off his line. In brilliant fashion, the Tanjong Pagar striker lobbed the ball over the wailing keeper to score his 9th of the season. The 31 year old Brazilian almost did it again with mere seconds on the clock, but it wouldn’t have mattered as TPUFC held on to claim all 3 points.
With the win, the Jaguars move into 6th in the table with 13 points — level with Geylang International FC (GIFC). And the White Swans remain on top with 31, just 4 ahead of the 2nd-ranked Lion City Sailors, who now have 2 games in hand. TPUFC will next face the Geylang Eagles at Our Tampines Hub on 14 August, while ANFCS will lock horns with Hougang United FC on 13 Aug at home.
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!