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[TNP League Cup] Albirex turned up for the occasion to win on late note.

Albirex won the Cup for the second time
It was thought the match would proceed into extra time after Fumiya Fogure levelled the scores in 75th minute to place Albirex Niigata (Singapore) on equal terms with Balestier Khalsa with minutes ticking away in The New Paper League Cup Final.

But Kento Nagasaki's 90th minute strike ensured everyone at the Jalan Besar Stadium could head out for their supper on time after the Japanese side claimed their second win of this trophy which they last won back in 2011.

"I am not worry to see the game head into extra time, as I have confidence on my team to get the goals within the full 90 minutes." said Albirex's coach Tatsuyuki Okuyama after the match.

Jubilation after Albirex equalized
On the contrary to the lacklustre display in their last match against Geylang International that clinched them the final berth, the White Swans did turn up for the occasion against Balestier by dominated much of the possession right from the start.

Despite the designated home side controlled much of the offenses, it was, however, the Tigers who took the lead instead in the 15th minute through Croatian striker Miroslav Kristic that saw the clean sheet of Albirex's custodian cum captain Yosuke Nozawa tainted for the first time in this tournament.

Igor Cerina (left) was cautioned in the game
Commenting on conceded that unexpected early goal, Coach Okuyama said:"The first goal took us by surprise and took us quite a while before we are able to recover and got our tempo back,

"Other than that, I think we made our substitution at the right time during the match that created a positive impact on the team performance." added the 39-year-old coach who took over the post since last season.

Kristic fisted his way up after took the lead
Meanwhile, the failure to build up from that early lead proved to be costly for Balestier who were playing their third Cup final in consecutive years since their name was first engraved on the League Cup trophy back in 2013, with many of their chances upfront were let down by poor decision making coupled with the stern defending by Albirex defence marshalled by Nozawa in goal.

"I think we should have won the game," exclaimed Tigers' coach Marko Kraljevic after the match.

"We never give Albirex any chance, in spite of having them keeping the possession because we pushed them all the way and with one mistake we made that we conceded the (second) goal, it's unlucky but that's football."

Close shave for Albirex in the box

Tarik Cmajcanin tried to foil an attempt
"And when you have guys like Igor (Cerina), Kristic on yellow cards in the game, you will players hold back a little bit because they tend to be cautious on their game after which and is probably why we never score the second goal." added the former midfielder.

Nonetheless, the decent run in this tournament had drawn some positives for the reigning Coach of The Year recipient which he hopes his men can maintain the rhythm when the league season resumes later this month.

Also looking forward to build up the same momentum in the league is Coach Okuyama who opined the win not only created a positive impact on his squad but also boasted the confidence as well, although he maintained it's still early days to say if Albirex are ready for the title.

Said one-time defender:"It is just halfway into this league season and it is still early to say whether we can win the title or not but we always strive to do better in every game, this Cup win will boast the confidence of the players while creates a positive impact for us to challenge for the title."


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