“Cruel game I would say, but that is football,” was what Woodlands Wellington assistant coach Clement Teo first said after the heartbreaking loss to Albirex Niigata.
Woodlands managed to hold their opponents for almost the whole match but the last minute goal by Albirex super-sub Yasuhiro Yamakoshi allowed the White Swans to walk away with all 3 points.
Although the Rams were beaten, Clement was proud of his players.
"I think you guys have seen the whole game," he said.
“We are very proud of our players, they did what they have been told and what we had prepared over the past weeks.
“It’s just one of those games whereby there was a lapse of concentration and it cost us the game.”
The straightforward coach went on and said, “They did very well. For a team of no-hopers."
"Yes, let’s be very frank. This is what was indicated even in the [Singapore] Pools website. What else can we say?
“I don’t know if I am being biased, but I think we had more clear-cut chances in the second-half. As you can see, we had shots that were blocked and nice set-up (on goals) but we were just unfortunate. “
Clement also refused to blame any of his players because football is a team game.
“It’s everyone’s fault because it’s a team game. I will never find a person and say that 'Look, it’s your fault that the ball went in'," explained Teo.
“We will work as a team and that’s very important for everyone in Woodlands. That includes me, the head coach and the manager, because we work as one.”
Albirex’s coach Koichi Sugiyama on the other hand was a happy man after the match.
Even though Albirex needed a last-minute goal, the S.League Coach of the Year last season was still pleased with his players' performances as he focused more on the way the team played.
“All the players never gave up until the end of the game and they were all fighting hard to win," said Sugiyama.
"[Even if the match ended as a draw] I will still be satisfied because of the way the whole team played throughout the match.”
When pressed on super-sub Yamakoshi, who has already scored 3 goals in 2 games this season after coming off the bench, starting next Sunday against Brunei DPMM, Sugiyama shrugged his shoulders and gleefully said, “I am sorry but I am too tired to think now so I will just leave everything to tomorrow!”
The Rams will next visit champions Tampines Rovers next Friday at the Clementi Stadium, while Albirex will travel to Brunei and face Brunei DPMM next Sunday.