Yee Chun Leong
BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN
ONE mistake was all it took to separate DPMM FC and Albirex Niigata FC (S) in their S.League encounter last night.
Leaders Albirex took one step closer to defending their S.League crown after edging the Brunei side 1-0 at the Hassanal Bolkiah National Stadium in Berakas.
DPMM FC goalkeeper Ak Mu’izzuddin Pg Ismail had let Kento Nagasaki's freekick slip through his hands in the 26th minute allowing Naofumi Tanaka to pounce and score the only goal of the match.
Despite the defeat, DPMM FC coach Steve Kean felt that they were the better team.
“It was an individual mistake but our goalkeeper has been excellent and made saves. He made a really good save straight afterwards,” said Kean after the defeat.
“Anybody can make mistakes and it was unfortunate the ball slipped through his hands and gave them an early lead.
“I’m proud of the players, the way we played. Albirex are at the top of the table and a long way in front. I don’t think that showed tonight against us,” he added.
“We probably had better chances than them but it didn’t fall for us. But the way we controlled the game and it looked like at times Albirex were afraid. As soon we got the ball in the wide areas we were a threat all night,” continued the Scotsman.
The result extends the White Swans winning streak to 12 matches in all competitions and put them on 49 points with five matches left.
On the other hand, DPMM FC remain rooted second from bottom in the nine-team standings with five points to their name.
Kento Nagasaki came close to opening the scoring in the 13th minute but his powerful shot from long range came off the underside of the crossbar.
Shoichiro Sakamoto got to the rebound but the DPMM FC custodian was there to deny him.
DPMM FC had their own opportunity at the other end three minutes later with Helmi Zambin sending a good ball to put Azwan Ali Rahman through.
The latter then chipped an onrushing Yosuke Nozawa but his effort was cleared off the line by Tanaka.
After grabbing the lead, the White Swans almost added a second four minutes later but Ak Mu’izzuddin kept out Sakamoto’s attempt.
DPMM FC came out storming in the second half and came close with an equaliser three minutes in.
Rafael Ramazotti got at the end of an Azwan Salleh cross from the right but headed just inches wide of the post.
Adi Said then nodded Azwan Ali’s freekick in the six-yard box minutes later but Nozawa was there for a stop.
Albirex put on a showcase of good ball movement which resulted in a low cross whipped in from the left but Nagasaki poked the ball wide from point blank range.
Sakamoto was on target again in the 71st minute but DPMM FC skipper was there to clear the ball off the line.
Ramazotti had one last attempt off an acrobatic effort in the dying minutes but watched the ball go over to see them slip to their 13th defeat in 16 matches.