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The Albirex Niigata coach was pleased they scored more than twice for the first time this season, while Warriors FC coach V.Selvaraj says conceding soft goals cost the game

By Eddie Ridzwan

Warriors FC succumbed to their fifth defeat of the season despite staging a tough fight in the latter stages of the game against Albirex Niigata (S) in a 3-2 thriller. Albirex’s three goals, including a beauty of a freekick from Shingo Suzuki, were enough to overcome the two that Warriors FC scored.

Mislav Karoglan could have tied things after he dispossesed White Swans goalkeeper Hiroaki Hara late on, but could only sail his shot wide from a very tight and narrow angle.

It was no surprise when Albirex coach Koichi Sugiyama entered the press room with glee, evident from the Darlie-like smile plastered on his face.

“Firstly, I am happy because we won against a good team like Warriors FC,” he enthused.

“Warriors were always tough opposition and they did not give up especially in the last 15 minutes where our players had a very tough job of keeping our lead.

“Suzuki had an amazing goal. It is a goal that makes everyone smile, even myself. This kind of goal gives the team cofidence as the match goes. This goal was not by chance - he stays behind every training at Jurong East to do extra shooting practice."

The Japanese coach was also delighted that his side finally scored thrice in a match for the first time this season.

“I’m happy that there are more goals [and] I think from now on we will get more goals," he confidently said.

"Over time, we [will] improve. Our second goal today was a good display of our philosophy. It was pass, pass, pass and then a goal. It really sums up our philosophy of play. It was beautiful!"

Meanwhile, his counterpart V. Selvaraj appeared rather downcast after the match, but had plenty to say about his team's performance.

“We conceded two soft goals early in the game, so we carved a mountain to climb against Albirex and they started to sit back," he noted.

“In the second half, we came out to play and created chances. We were just lacking a bit of conclusion then. We competed well in the second half and the boys had more belief. We won every challenge and every second ball and there was more speed in attack and transition plays; these were what we severely lacked in the first half.

“Kari’s [Karoglan] goal [had he scored] would have definitely secured us one point. He did his best though, it was a tight angle and there was a lot of pressure surrounding him."

The former Singapore international felt that goalkeeper Hassan Sunny could have done more about the first goal, but stopped short of blaming him.

“For his [Hassan's] standard, he could have done better," Selvaraj reflected. "But, to be fair, the ball was swerving right and left and it was going to be hard to stop it, especially since there was a lot of power into the shot.

“I am pretty sure that if we had played the first half as we did the second, it would have been an open game."

Albirex will next face Home United at Jalan Besar, while Warriors will travel to Clementi Stadium to take on Tanjong Pagar United.