The Garena Young Lions succumbed to a 0-5 loss on Saturday night against Albirex Niigata FC (S), who swept all four titles in Singapore football last year.
The Young Lions saw an encouraging first 15 minutes, with goalkeeper Zharfan Rohaizad preventing Albirex from taking the lead eight minutes into the game by blocking Tsubasa Sano’s header when the latter met a cross from the right.
However, the developmental team was unable to fend off the White Swans, who struck the first blow in the 16th minute through Sano and led 3-0 at half time with further goals from Takuya Akiyama (18′) and Kento Nagasaki (38′)”.
The Young Lions were presented with an opportunity to pull one back two minutes before the break, but goalkeeper Yosuke Nozawa blocked defender Amirul Adli’s effort.
Young Lions Coach V. Selvaraj brought on Syahrul Sazali after the restart and the substitute almost reduced the deficit, but failed to score with Nozawa producing another save in the 48th minute.
Albirex went on to score two more goals in the second half of the game. Goals from Ryota Nakai (58’) and Sano (75’) closed out Albirex Niigata’s second win of the season.
Commenting on the Young Lions’ performance, Coach Selvaraj said: “I believe we did well in the first 15 minutes but we lost concentration and gave away unnecessary fouls after that.
“Once we conceded the first goal, it was a mountain to climb but we tried our best. In fact, we could have scored one or two. The boys tend to put themselves under pressure and are afraid of making mistakes, but they are capable of better things.”
Coach Selvaraj also mentioned that the Young Lions’ played better this time than in their first game.
“Our players were more successful in handling the ball, in their counterattacks and combinations. They are getting more confident, and growing game by game.”
Garena Young Lions: Zharfan Rohaizad (GK), Rusyaidi Salime, Amirul Adli, Shahrin Saberin (C), Dhukhilan Jeevamani, Jordan Chan (Zulqarnaen Suzliman 58’), Hami Syahin (Ammirul Emmran 86’), Muhelmy Suhaimi, Yeo Hai Ngee (Syahrul Sazali 46’), Taufik Suparno, Muhaimin Suhaimi