Albirex Niigata: The referee gave soft decisions

White Swans team manager Koh Mui Tee was certain his team was let down by poor refereeing decisions as did coach Koichi Sugiyama
Despite bowing out of the competition, Albirex Niigata (S) coach Koichi Sugiyama felt that his team played to their best and hoped that they would display the same kind of performance in their future matches when the league resumes.

“I really want to thank the players for their performance and I feel that they did not give up till the final whistle," he said.

"We defended well today and we scored three goals in the game.  I hope to continue this in the S.League.

“Tampines is a very good team and the reason we could score three goals is because we played well. I do not think that there are many teams that have scored three goals against Tampines.

“The important thing is to continue playing good football when the S.League starts again at the end of the month.”

Both Sugiyama and Team Manager, Koh Mui Tee, were in unison as they disagreed with referee Abdul Malik’s decision to award Tampines the free kick that lead to the equalising goal in the dying second of extra-time.

“I don’t think that it was a freekick,” said Sugiyama before repeating it again to the media to emphasise his opinion on the matter.

Mui Tee went a mile further as he said: “"I feel that the referee gave soft decisions to Singapore national player, Aleksander Duric and also to players such as Ahmad Latiff and Alam Shah."

That was not the only issue that was brought up by Mui Tee as in the midst of the penalty shoot-out, he was seen making his way from the stands to the fourth official.

Mui Tee had raised a complaint about the Tampines ball-boys who were seen sitting in numbers behind the hoarding boards behind the goalpost in which the penalty was taking place.

As for Stags coach Steven Tan, he is already thinking about the semi-final as he hopes that his players would have had adequate rest before they meet Geylang United.

“It’s hard for the players and we can’t do much given the tight schedule and also given this is the fasting month, it should have gone straight into penalties instead of having to play extra time,” said Tan.

“Some of the players looked tired but they never gave up and kept going till the end. Hopefully we regroup and recharge in time for Wednesday's semi-final."

Steven also revealed that he personally told goalkeeper Sasa Dreven to redeem himself in the penalty shoot-out by taking responsibility from the spot.

“I told Sasa that this is his only chance to redeem himself and I told him to take the penalty," explained Tan.

"Despite conceding a soft goal, he was forgiven for it as he had scored the penalty and made a save after that.”