Albirex Niigata (S) beat Brunei DPMM to win Singapore League Cup
Albirex Niigata (S) remain on course to claim the treble in 2016 after winning the Singapore League Cup on Saturday night with a 2-0 victory over Brunei DPMM FC in the final at Jalan Besar Stadium.
Rui Kumada put the Japanese outfit in front with a fine effort in the 42nd minute before Atsushi Kawata headed home the second 11 minutes before the end.
The result means the White Swans have completed the first part of their treble quest this season. They also hold a four-point lead at the top of the S.League over Tampines Rovers and are through to the semifinals of the Singapore Cup.
While Albirex were slight favourites, their opponents, coached by former Premier League manager Steve Kean, did show plenty of endeavour from the opening whistle and looked up for the fight early on.
It was, however, Albirex who carved out the first real chance 34 minutes in. Kawata latched onto Tatsuro Inui's lofted through-pass and skipped past the on-rushing Wardun Yussof, only to fire wide of the unguarded goal.
But eight minutes later, the deadlock was broken when Kumada did well to hold off a challenge by Abdul Aziz Tamit on the edge of the box before sending a sumptuous effort into the top corner.
The White Swans continued to create the better chances after the break but were wasteful in front of goal.
First, Inui screwed a volley wide after being picked out at the back post by Kawata. Then Kumada was also unable to find the target with a snapshot from Mikiya Yamada's pinpoint delivery.
They looked destined to double their advantage in the 63rd minute. But Wardun produced a brilliant save to keep out Kento Nagasaki's low shot before Najib Tarif raced back in time to block Naofumi Tanaka's goal-bound effort on the line.
It seemed as though their profligacy would come back to haunt them. Adi Said had a decent opportunity to punish them five minutes later when he broke free inside the box, but Yosuke Nozawa did well to deny him down low.
Then, in the 79th minute, Albirex star Kawata made sure of the result. Having already scored three goals in the tournament prior to the final, he ghosted in at the back post to meet Nagasaki's deep corner and squeezed a header past Wardun to complete a 2-0 victory.
Albirex are now the most successful club in the 10-year history of the Singapore League Cup, having won it three times since 2011.
Brunei DPMM FC: Wardun Yussof, Rosmin Kamis, Abdul Aziz Tamit (Shahrazen Said 72'), Brian McLean, Helmi Zambin, Maududi Hilmi (Hendra Azam 72'), Azwan Saleh, Najib Tarif, Adi Said, Paulo Sergio, Rafael Ramazotti
Albirex Niigata (S): Yosuke Nozawa, Mikiya Yamada, Kento Fujihara, Atsushi Shirota, Kazuki Mine, Naofumi Tanaka, Shuto Inaba, Kento Nagasaki, Tatsuro Inui (Hiroyoshi Kamata 60'), Rui Kumada (Tomoki Menda 77'), Atsushi Kawata
Gabriel Tan is a TV and radio pundit who writes for ESPN FC and The New Paper on Southeast Asian football. Twitter: @gabetan13.