Sunday, July 31, 2011
Singapore League Cup Final
The curtain raiser for the 2011 League Cup Final was the 3rd place playoff between Tampines Rovers FC and Home United FC. The match saw a few close moments which got the fans up on their feet. With both teams being unable to break the deadlock in regulation time, the 3rd place playoff had to be decided via penalty kicks in which Tampines emerged as winners.
The main event of the evening kicked off at 7.45pm with Albirex Niigata (S) FC and Hougang United FC facing off in the 2011 League Cup Final, a first for both teams. Despite being the underdogs in this tie, Hougang United FC wasted no time getting into the game.
Victor Borges of Hougang United, came close in the 12th minute to give his side an early lead but his shot missed the target by just inches. He struck again six minutes later and this time, his low shot was saved by Yoshito Matsushita, Albirex Niigata’s No.1.
Albirex Niigata gave Fadhil Salim, Hougang’s goalkeeper, his first real test in the 31st minute where he had to make an outstretched save to keep his side in the game. The first half ended with the score unchanged.
Both teams came back onto the pitch looking for a win in the second half and it showed in the pace of the game. Albirex used their advantage in speed to break down Hougang’s rock steady defensive line but each attacking move was effectively soothed by Hougang.
Hougang too were unable to penetrate Albirex’s defence despite the numerous chances they created from both flanks. After playing a full 90 minutes and with the score unchanged, the match went into extra time. Unfortunately, the extra 30 minutes were also not enough to decide the 2011 League Cup winner and the match then proceeded into penalties.
When it came down to holding their nerves, Albirex Niigata emerged winners as they converted all five penalties while Hougang missed their fifth penalty. The final score read, Albirex Niigata (S) FC 5-4 Hougang United FC. It is the first title for the Japanese side since their inception into the S.League in 2004.
Speaking at the post-match press conference, Hougang United coach Aide Iskandar said “Both teams were cautious when we started the game, and I thought that it was an entertaining game for the fans to watch. Chances were created from both sides. I felt that we could have sealed the match in the second half of extra time, but unfortunately we had to work through the penalties. I also feel sorry for the boys because they gave their all and played very well. Moving forward, we will look towards the RHB Singapore Cup and the S.League.”
“Although we did not play at a higher tempo than usual, compared to our previous matches, we played possession football and our players were still able to pass the ball and keep the ball well till the end of the match. We did prepare for the penalty kicks as apart of our training and it came in handy. I would like to thank the players, coaches, all staff in the club for helping make this dream come through.” said Albirex Niigata coach Koichi Sugiyama.
Congratulations Alibirex Niigata (S) FC for being crowned as the 2011 League Cup Champions!
Final Score: Albirex Niigata (S) FC 5-4 Hougang United FC
Abirex Niigata (S) FC Starting Line-up:
Yoshito Matsushita, Ryuta Hayashi, Shuhei Hotta, Kazuki Kobayashi, Atsushi Shimono (Musashi Okuyama 111) , Bruno Castanheira (Yosuke Saito 74), Shimpei Sakurada (C), Tatsuro Inui, Shotaro Ihata, Norihiro Kawakami, Takuya Hidaka
Hougang United FC Starting Line-up:
Fadhil Salim, Lau Meng Meng, Shariff Samat (C), Shahril Alias, Fathi Yunus, Azhar Sairudin (Sobrie Mazlan 91), Jordan Webb, Ratna Suffian, Vitor Borges, Carlos Delgado, Noor Ali
SOURCE - FAS Press Release