The 2011 S.League Coach of the Year was full of praise for his side but played down talks of a title challenge despite topping the tableThe smile was visible on Albirex Niigata (S) coach Koichi Sugiyama face as the referee blew the final whistle signaling an all-important three points over Brunei DPMM FC.
Sugiyama was pleased with how his team played as he felt that they showed unity on the pitch: “I am very satisfied with how my players played today. They defended together as a team and went on the offensive as a unit too.”
“Our players had good concentration and they worked hard in the game. They improved as the game progressed and we won the game.”
Sugiyama said that he was worried that with ten minutes to go in the game, his players seemed to be more defensive.
“I told my boys not to be too defensive against a team like DPMM and to move out further and finally we got the second goal," he explained.
“We deserved this win and I think that this is a wonderful game of football.”
Despite going on an impressive run of nine games unbeaten and sitting at the top of the table,
Sugiyama played down talks of winning the title.
“I am not thinking about the title," he said of matter of factly.
"It is important for us to concentrate on the next game against Harimau Muda.”
DPMM coach Vjeran Simunic, meanwhile, took some time to be alone before opening up to the media for the post-match interview.
“During the game, there were many occasions that the game was heading for a draw, but this is football," he said ruefully.
"I congratulate Albirex for their win and I had said before that they are a contender for the title.”
Simunic lamented the fact that his team is undergoing some changes with suspension and injury and this has been a negative effect.
“When the team lost, definitely I have something to say," he added.
"Our captain had only joined up with the team a day before this game and our new striker Patrick Da Silva has only been with us for about seven days and Dos Santos is out suspended.
“Patrick passed the beep test yesterday and today he is playing. Still early to comment on his performance as he needs more time and game before I can say whether I am happy with him.”
Simunic sounded disappointed as he revealed that he had warned his boys of Albirex stle of play: “I have told my players that Albirex is a good team and their style of play is to patiently build up their game and usually attack though the left side. But both goals come from an attack from the left.”
Albirex now top the S.League having played one game more than nearest rivals Tampines Rovers, who were league leaders for the previous 24 hours.