Football: Albirex becomes first club to sweep all four S'pore football titles in a season

Albirex Niigata beat Tampines Rovers 2-0 in the RHB Singapore Cup final on Oct 29, 2016.
Albirex Niigata beat Tampines Rovers 2-0 in the RHB Singapore Cup final on Oct 29, 2016. PHOTO: THE NEW PAPER
Albirex Niigata’s players and staff celebrating with the S-League trophy in Jalan Besar Stadium on Oct 26, 2016.
Albirex Niigata’s players and staff celebrating with the S-League trophy in Jalan Besar Stadium on Oct 26, 2016.PHOTO: THE NEW PAPER

SINGAPORE - Albirex Niigata became the first team to achieve an unprecedented clean sweep of all four domestic football trophies in a season.

Having already won the Community Shield in February, the League Cup in July and sealed their first S-League title on Oct 14, the Japanese team beat Tampines Rovers 2-0 in the RHB Singapore Cup final to complete the quadruple.

It is now two seasons in a row that the S-League, Singapore Cup and League Cup titles have all been won by foreign clubs.

The Stags went into their last game of the year knowing that they are set to lose many of its players for next season, including top foreign signings Jermaine Pennant and Billy Mehmet and possibly some of the national players as its management embarks on an austerity drive.

But despite their intention to leave behind good memories in their final curtain call, Tampines got off to a nightmare start when they conceded their first goal via an embarassing defensive blunder by captain and goalkeeper Izwan Mahbud in the 28th minute.

The usually-solid custodian fumbled with a defensive pass from Fahrudin Mustafic, allowing Atsushi Kawata, Albirex's top scorer in the league this season with 13 goals, to pounce and give the Japanese the lead.

Former Arsenal and Liverpool player Pennant, who is arguably the biggest name to play in the S-League, started the match from the bench. The 33-year-old winger came on as a substitute in the 68th minute, giving the fans at Jalan Besar Stadium a final glimpse of himself in action before the Englishman ended his nine-month sojourn in Singapore football.

But Albirex put the contest to bed in the 87th minute when Daichi Ishiyama's cross was converted by Kento Nagasaki, whose looping header sailed into the net.