SINGAPORE PREMIER LEAGUE
Albirex Niigata 4
Home United 0
Birthday boy Kyoga Nakamura was the toast of Albirex Niigata, as the White Swans thrashed Home United 4-0 in the Singapore Premier League (SPL) at the Jurong East Stadium yesterday.
Home had no answer for the former Japan Under-17 midfielder, who turned 23 on Friday and scored a brace yesterday, with all four goals coming in the first half.
White Swans coach Keiji Shigetomi praised his No. 10, saying: "He can score, dictate the game, and help in our build-up play.
"As captain, his presence in the team is very important, especially in attack."
Nakamura provided the cutting edge in the final third for his side, and ultimately decided the outcome of a match that was otherwise fairly even.
With just over a minute gone, Nakamura's tricky feet fooled Home defender Faizal Roslan into tripping him inside the penalty area. He dusted himself off to fire past goalkeeper Nazri Sabri and put his side in front.
Daizo Horikoshi then stole in at the near-post to put Albirex 2-0 up in the 21st minute, before he turned provider in the 39th minute, when his shot was parried into the path of Daniel Martens for the Singaporean's first SPL goal for the Japanese side.
Nakamura then grabbed his second and Albirex's fourth in added time in the first period, winning the ball in midfield and jinking past Faizal before firing a shot from distance that went in off the post.
"After we got the penalty and goal in the first minute, Home had to attack and left gaps behind for us to exploit," said Shigetomi.
Home saw most of the ball in the second half but could not conjure a clear chance. The closest they came was through substitute Hafiz Nor's long-distance shot, which Albirex goalkeeper Kengo Fukudome tipped wide.
The Protectors have no time to sulk over the defeat, though. They leave for Indonesia this morning for an AFC Cup game against PSM Makassar on Tuesday.
They then return to Singapore and fly off again to Brunei to take on league leaders Brunei DPMM next Saturday.
"We need to review today's game and look at the areas we can improve, but as you know we don't have much time," said Home's interim coach Noh Rahman, who added it was frustrating to watch his side dominate but not score.
"We're travelling tomorrow for a different competition which is equally important, and it is a question of character now for the players.
"Today is obviously not a good result for our boys but we are looking for them to bounce back from this."