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Seia Kunori ends goal drought as Albirex bounce back with 6-2 win over Balestier

The Tigers reduced the deficit in the 54th minute as Ryoya Taniguchi’s delivery across goal was spilled by Hyrulnizam Juma’at, who was starting only his third league match in five seasons as first-choice custodian Hassan Sunny is injured. Shuhei Hoshino reacted fastest and tapped the ball home.

But Fukashiro restored their four-goal cushion in the 90th minute, after picking up a loose ball and curling it past Hairul from outside the box.


Albirex showed that they were a class above Balestier as they recovered brilliantly from last weekend’s defeat by the Sailors. They were too hot to handle for the Tigers, who struggled to stop them from advancing up the pitch.

The White Swans’ crisp passing from the back to the front showcased their immense quality, and it was evident in many of their forward plays. Their lightning quick attacks involved just a few passes in a few seconds, and their chemistry is something that is unrivalled across the league.

SINGAPORE – Anxious to extend his goal tally, Albirex Niigata striker Seia Kunori focused too much on himself in the last few matches. The result? He fired blanks.

But after he changed his mindset to help the team win, his goals also returned on Friday as the Japanese side trounced Balestier Khalsa 6-2 at the Jurong East Stadium to bounce back from Sunday’s 3-2 loss to the Lion City Sailors.

Kunori, who scored two goals, ended a four-game goal drought as the White Swans returned to the top of the Singapore Premier League, one point above Tampines Rovers and four ahead of the Sailors. Balestier remain fourth despite the defeat.

Speaking through a translator, Kunori said: “In the last few games, I was too focused on myself, and my intention to help the team win was a bit low. It was pointed out by coach (Kazuaki) Yoshinaga and I changed my mindset to help the team win, and the goals today reflect that.”

The 22-year-old, who took his goal tally to nine, expressed delight to have ended his dry spell, but added that “I could have scored some more. It shows my lack of capability and I want to improve more”.

Albirex coach Kazuaki Yoshinaga said: “This was a must-win game, so however it goes, we wanted to win. If we want to win the title, we cannot lose games in succession.”

The three-time SPL Coach of the Year added that they should have scored more and added that they need to reflect on their defending after conceding two goals.

Balestier caretaker coach Razif Ariff, who took the reins as head coach Peter de Roo is on compassionate leave, rued his side’s tendency to concede goals in quick succession. He said: “Almost every game that we look back after we conceded, we tend to concede again within the next 15 minutes. Again today, the two, three goals that they scored were part of our mistakes, we keep losing the ball and then they they go forward and create the chances.”

Kunori, who scored a hat-trick in a 6-1 win over Balestier in April before his goal drought, took just 21 minutes to score a brace against the same side.

Collecting a lay-off from Tadanari Lee in the 12th minute, he finished coolly past goalkeeper Hairul Syirhan to open the floodgates. Nine minutes later, he started and ended a brilliant move as he swept the ball home after Shuto Komaki’s shot was parried into his path.

Albirex made it 3-0 when Kunori slipped Komaki through and the latter finished cleverly past a hapless Hairul. But Balestier were given a lifeline when Madhu Mohana rose highest to head home Darren Teh’s free-kick six minutes before the break.

Any hopes of a comeback, however, were extinguished after two quick goals from Albirex – an own goal by Madhu and left-back Sho Fuwa’s first professional goal – at the start of the second half.