|FROM PASIR GUDANG, JOHOR
By Khalis Rifhan
Despite coming away with all three points against Harimau Muda B , Albirex Niigata (S) were finding it difficult to give their full concentration under the late afternoon scorching sun at the Pasir Gudang Stadium.
Kazuki Sakamoto scored in the sixth minute of the game and the White Swans survived a late assault from the Young Tigers in the last quarter of the match.
Speaking after the match, coach Koichi Sugiyama said that his team was not able to perform at their best due to several factors beyond their control.
“Today was a hard game for us and we did not control the game," said the Albirex coach.
"Play was very difficult because there was strong wind, it was very hot and the pitch was not good too.”
But despite not showing their full potential in the match, Sugiyama could still afford a smile, as he added: “But we got the patience and our players were strong and it was an exciting game. Overall I am satisfied with the results. It was an important three points for us away from home.”
“Harimau Muda will get better as the season goes. They are young players, so it’s step by step for them. But I am sure they will do well.”
Sugiyama’s counterpart, former Kuala Lumpur FA coach Razip Ismail however was a frustrated man as he felt his players could do better in preventing Albirex from scoring the only goal of the game.
“The goal was a lapse in concentration for us and we were also lacking in confidence in the first half," said Razip.
"But we improved in the second half. We tried to score but we failed. We matched Albirex in this game and I am happy with our performance. This is our first game and I hope they will gain more confidence in the second match, we have to do something and achieve results.”
Harimau Muda will next travel to Woodlands stadium to take on the Rams on February 26 while Albirex will be up against Home United at the Jalan Besar Stadium on March 1.