Brunei DPMM FC and Albirex Niigata (S) players in action. PHOTOS: INFOFOTO
BY Fadhil Yunus
DPMM FC’s pair of substitutes Razimie Ramlli and Adi Said made an instant impact to help their side return to the top of the AIA Singapore Premier League after a 2-0 victory against Albirex Niigata (S) at the Hassanal Bolkiah National Stadium in Berakas last night.
His Royal Highness Prince Haji Al-Muhtadee Billah ibni His Majesty Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah Mu’izzaddin Waddaulah, the Crown Prince and Senior Minister at the Prime Minister’s Office, and His Royal Highness Prince ‘Abdul Malik attended to watch the match.
The win ensured they swapped places with title rivals Hougang United and carry a two-point lead over them with a game-in-hand in their favour.
The victory, which enhanced the Gegar Gegar’s men title prospects, also marked DPMM FC’s first victory over the Japanese satellite side for the first time in three years.
It also confirmed a new league champion since 2016 as title holders Albirex Niigata (S)’s defeat meant that they could not catch the newly-installed league leaders.
The visitors played a smart corner with a low pass and the recipient Yosuke Nakagawa saw his shot well handled by DPMM FC goalkeeper Wardun Yussof.
DPMM FC midfielder Azwan Ali Rahman showed vision to trouble the Albirex defence with a clever ball up top and Abdul Azizi Ali Rahman took a volley first time, which necessitated visiting goalkeeper Kengo Fukudome to stick a hand out to make the save.
The reigning holders threatened as Albirex captain Kyoga Nakamura pulled a decent shot from a long range, which was tipped away by Wardun for a corner.
Albirex defender Shoki Ohara found space and unleashed a shot from distance but his shot was deflected off a DPMM FC player away for a corner.
As Nakagawa brought the danger into the DPMM FC box with a cross, midfielder Hiroyoshi Kamata sized up for a shot but contrived to see the ball fly wide.
DPMM FC fullback Awangku Fakharrazi drove forward and escaped his marker Zamani Zamri with ease before swinging a low driven cross into the area.
The advancing Abdul Azizi stretched his legs out to get contact with the ball but unfortunately his shot brushed against the post.
The Brunei-based outfit averted danger as Wardun’s outstretched arms denied a curled effort from Kaishu Yamazaki.
Fakharrazi was a thorn for Albirex after he found a way to the box having brilliantly skipped past the Albirex defence, but inadvertently scuffed his shot wide in the critical moment.
The Gegar Gegar men enjoyed a promising move at the start of the second half as Blake Ricciuto sent the ball wide to Andrei Varankou, whose low cross was deprived off a telling touch from Abdul Azizi.
The hosts came close to break the deadlock as Azwan Ali was put through by Ricciuto but Fukudome emerged from a one-on-one situation with the local DPMM FC star unscathed.
The Gegar Gegar men took the lead in the 67th minute after a goalkeeping blunder led substitute Razimie Ramlli with an invitation to an open goal. Having kept his side in the game, it proved a cruel turn as Fukudome was culpable of a costly error after his attempted clearance went horribly wrong and was punished by Razimie, who steered the ball home into the empty net.
The visitors broke after DPMM FC midfielder Nurikhwan Othman could not deal with a long ball from Albirex but Daizo Horikoshi’s effort was thwarted by the excellent Wardun.
The Gegar Gegar men looked certain to move into the top of the league after Adi Said doubled his team’s lead with a stunning free-kick from distance in the 77th minute.
With Albirex looking for a lifeline, Nakagawa saw a wayward attempt hit Maiko Hatanaka who guided the ball across goal but Wardun was equal to the task.
-- Courtesy of Borneo Bulletin