|FROM WOODLANDS STADIUM
Despite starting the match as the underdogs, Woodlands Wellington defied the script and snatched all three points against Albirex Niigata (S) as they ran out 2-1 winner at the Woodlands stadium.
Atsushi Shimono displayed a dynamite performance, pulling the midfield together while former Netherlands U21 international Khalid Hamdoui grabbed a goal for himself and put on a brilliant performance in the attacking third.
For the Rams coach Salim Moin, the result is not one that came as a surprise as he had believed in his charges and their capability to be amongst the big guys in the league.
“Of course I expected the three points, I told myself and the team that I know they can do it and they gave me the points; they were fantastic in this match,” said Salim.
“All the backline was impressive and everyone worked very hard. They play according to the game plan that I have set out and I trust all my players.”
Salim revealed that he had done his homework aggressively prior to the match and that explained why he was spot on in countering the White Swans tactics.
“We played according to a very intelligent situation," said the former Balestier coach.
"This is a very tactical game and I should say that they play and listen to all the instruction. I am happy to see that and every game I change different formation.
“The game was to stop their midfield play and if you notice in a couple of (previous) matches, they control the middle and pass the ball around. So the game tonight was to stop their midfield and we did that, and the results came in for us.”
Despite the loss, the visiting coach Koichi Sugiyama was not about to start the blame game on his players. Instead, he shouldered the responsibility and pointed out that his boys had a pretty decent game against Woodlands.
“I think Woodlands is a very good team with Shimono," said Sugiyama.
"Six consecutive win is very difficult but we are still in good position and this does not change our aim for the season. “We have to change our mind for the next game, and it is very important.
“Woodlands gave us a good game today and the pitch is very slippery, so we could not play our usual football. Our players did a good job and played well but when we lose a game, it is my responsibility.”
Woodlands Wellington will next travel to Bandar Seri Begawan to take on Brunei DPMM at the Hassanal Bolkiah Stadium on March 31 while Albirex Niigata will host Tanjong Pagar United at the Jurong East stadium on April 2.