Singapore thrashed by Albirex Niigata for second loss on Japan tour

With the start of the AFF Suzuki Cup less than four months away, Singapore were given another wake up call after being thrashed 3-0 by Japanese side Albirex Niigata in a friendly match at the Denka Big Swan Stadium in Niigata City on Sunday.

After conceding three times in the first quarter of an hour, the Lions showed greater defensive steel in the second half to be spared from a heavier defeat.

Albirex Niigata are only in 15th spot in the 18-team J-League. But they were a class above the visitors from Southeast Asia, even though they were fielding many of their backup players, having faced Omiya Ardija the previous evening.

"It is beneficial that my team got to test themselves against an opponent in the J1 League, one of the top leagues in Asia, with fast, fit and technically adept players," coach V. Sundramoorthy told Football Association of Singapore.

"I give full credit to Albirex Niigata for a very good game."

Albirex's attacking players shone during a dominant opening after Japanese midfielder Hayama Go gave them a third minute lead. Ex-Sevilla forward Ibusuki Hiroshi, who came off the bench in the 2-1 victory over Omiya Ardija, doubled the lead nine minutes later. Brazilian striker Leonardo Kalil Abdala made it 3-0 in the 15th minute.

It was Singapore's second defeat in three games in Japan, having lost 3-2 to the Niigata University of Health and Welfare on Wednesday before a 2-0 win against the Japan Soccer College on Thursday.

But coach Sundram said that the games had served their purpose to help him look at every member of the 25-man squad, with key players like Hariss Harun, Baihakki Khaizan, Hassan Sunny and Safuwan Baharudin missing. Garena Young Lions striker Khairul Amri, who's earned more than 100 caps, was the squad's most senior player.

"The past three matches have allowed me to try different formations and test varying tactics, and the players have also had valuable match-time together," he said.

"Results are not the objective of this training camp, but we will work on our areas for improvement. We are now preparing for Thursday's international friendly against Cambodia and we are focusing on our lessons learnt from this camp."

The game against the Cambodians will take place in Phnom Penh before Singapore return home.