SINGAPORE -Home United have started the 2019 Singapore Premier League (SPL) season on a positive note after beating defending champions Albirex Niigata 5-4 on penalties in the Community Shield on Saturday (Feb 23) evening .
The match was goalless after 90 minutes at Jalan Besar Stadium and no extra time was played for the curtain raiser.
It was midfielder Hami Syahin who netted the decisive penalty as the shoot-out went to sudden death after both teams had each missed two of their first five kicks.
The roulette was decided after defender Naruki Takahashi's effort rebounded off the bar and Hami, 21, stepped up to tuck his shot low into the bottom corner to claim the silverware for the Protectors.
In a scrappy first half, chances were few as both sides sized each other up with a series of crunching tackles and neither team pressing high up the pitch.
The best chance of the half fell to the Protectors in the 35th minute when forward Iqram Rifqi drifted wide to float in a teasing cross but Shahril Ishak was unable to connect with goalkeeper Kengo Fukudome already beaten.
It was also noted that defending SPL champions Albirex - who won the title in an unbeaten run, playing slick attacking football last year - had adopted a more direct style this campaign.
New league rules also dictate that the White Swans must sign at least four Singaporean players with at least two required to start and play the entire first half of every game.
Against Home, midfielders Firas Irwan and Zamani Zamri, both 18, were in the first XI although both were taken off at half time.
It was more of the same after the interval as neither side could dominate the game and it was scoreless at the final whistle as the match went to penalties.