Albirex Niigata Singapore coach Kazuaki Yoshinaga said he was not just impressed with the attacking abilities of his team, but also the defensive discipline they displayed during their 8-0 thrashing of Garena Young Lions in the S.League fixture on Friday.
In-form striker Tsubasa Sano scored five goals as the defending champions, with 28 points from 10 matches, extended the lead at the top of the table to five points. It was one-way traffic right from the word go at Jurong East Stadium as Sano opened the scoring as early as in the sixth minute of the game.
Kento Nagasaki added a second in the ninth minute and Sano and Ryota Nakai added one more each as Albirex headed into the break with a 4-0 scoreline. Sano netted three more goals in the second half to leapfrog Home United's Stipe Plazibat and become the league top-scorer with 15 goals.
Young Lions' Taufik Suparno kept on trying for a breakthrough but he was denied on numerous occasions by the White Swans defence that was impenetrable on the night. Goalkeeper Nozawa sprung into action in the dying moments of the game saving a penalty to help his side keep a clean sheet.
"While we [Albirex] scored eight goals today, it was important for us to not concede any goals because to be a champion, our defence must be at its top and thankfully our goalkeeper made a penalty save [for a clean sheet]," Yoshinaga said, as quoted by S.League's official website.
The Japanese tactician also wants his side to emulate the European champions in terms of number of goals scored and conceded per game. Notably, Albirex have scored the most this season in the league - 33, one more than Home, who thrashed Brunei DPMM 9-3 on Thursday.
Despite losing their influential centre-back Atsushi Shirota, who played a key role in their quadruple win last season, the likes of Takuya Akiyama and Yasutaka Yanagi have stepped up and led their backline impressively.The White Swans also have the best defensive record in the league with only six goals conceded so far.
"I have also analysed the league table of the recently-concluded European leagues and found that the championship winners usually have a goal conceded ratio of 0.8 goals per game, while scoring an average 2.5 goals a game. So this is the target I have for my team to become champions," Yoshinaga added.