Albirex Niigata outlasts Global Cebu in penalties to win Singapore Cup
By Lorenzo Del Carmen
As the first ever Filipino club to reach the Singapore Cup final, Global knew it had a chance to write history. But standing in the Cebu club’s way was current S.League champions Albirex Niigata.
In the end, though, it was the Albirex players which had their hands on the cup as Akbar Nawas’ men folded 1-3 in penalties after the game finished 2-2 after extra time at the Jalan Besar Stadium in Singapore.
Albirex’s Japanese forward Tsubasa Sano drew first blood for the Singaporean champions at the 32nd minute when he eluded the Global defense and shot past Deyto to break the deadlock.
Global entered the break a goal down, yet emerged from the dugout in the best way possible. After just two minutes from the restart, Wesley Dos Santos leveled the contest for the Filipino side thanks to a header which went last Albirex goalie Yosuke Nozawa.
Both clubs failed to find a winner within 90 minutes which brought extra time in the cup final. Similar to the first half, it was Albirex that got the lead in overtime thanks to Kento Nagasaki’s strike at the 96th minute.
Already down 1-2 at the end of the first half of extra time, Global knew it had to retaliate quickly in order to spring a comeback. At the 109th minute, prayers from the Global fans, players and coaches were answered thanks to another header this time by former National University striker Paolo Salenga.
Extra time wasn’t enough to separate the two clubs and the contest went to penalties. Albirex took its penalties first and Nagasaki converted the first spot-kick while Dos Santos missed his afterwards for Global.
Sano then skied his penalty, but Global failed to capitalize as Darryl Roberts’ attempt hit the crossbar. Shoichiro Sakamoto doubled Albirex’s advantage in the next round, although Pika Minegishi finally pulled one back for Global.
Down 1-2 in the shootout, Global’s situation worsened when defender Naofumi Tanaka converted his penalty to make it a 3-1 lead for Albirex. It was up to Salenga to salvage the situation, yet he saw his attempt saved by Nozawa.
Global succumbed 1-3 in penalties against Albirex in what was a valiant fight for the former. The victory gave Niigata a clean sweep of all four domestic trophies in Singaporean football for the second year running.
While the result is a painful experience for Global, the club still has the 2017 Philippines Football League as a possible trophy for all their endeavors this year.