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'We controlled the game today' - Albirex Niigata (S) coach Koichi Sugiyama on his team's slim victory over Laotian invitees

'We controlled the game today' - Albirex Niigata (S) coach Koichi Sugiyama on his team's slim victory over Laotian invitees

Zeng Liwei

A narrow win over Yotha did not hamper the Coach of the Year's mood as he praised the performance of his opponents

Despite his team's inability to score through open play and the squandering of chances in front of goal, Albirex Niigata coach Koichi Sugiyama was happy with his team's overall performance.

“Yotha FC's performance was good tonight and their defence performed very well," said the reigning S.League Coach of the Year.

"They are a good team too.

“But we controlled the game today. It was our game today, that is what I personally feel.

When asked whether he was worried the game looked to be heading into extra-time, Sugiyama said:“I did not think about extra-time as I believed we could score during the 90 minutes.”

“The important thing is to create many chances and that is what we did today and finally we eventually scored from a free-kick.”

Although Sugiyama had always dreamt of lifting the Singapore Cup and going one better than the previous year's runners-up finish, he is currently focused on their next cup game against Tampines Rovers and is taking things one step at a time.

For now, he is giving his players a much deserved rest as they will be taking a break from training for a week.

His counterpart at Yotha FC, Somsack Keodala, meanwhile bemoaned his team's mistake of giving away a free-kick at the edge of the penalty box which led to the Albirex goal.

“That is very dangerous, I talked to my players and told them to be more careful and not to give such free-kick in future,” said Keodala.

“I feel that this is a good game as this is a first time my team played against a foreign team.

“This is also the strongest team my side had ever played against and it is a very good experience for me and my players.”

When asked about his team's ultra-defensive tactics, Keodala said: “My players played to the tactics well and I know that the Japanese team is stronger than us and I told my defence to be compact.”

“Furthermore some of my players were struggling with fitness. That is why I made some substitutions in the second-half.”

The Yotha coach also added that he looked forward to be invited back to the tournament next season but added that even if it were to happen, the decision ultimately was with the Laotian FA.

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