Albirex Niigata coach Kazuaki Yoshinaga warned his team against complacency and said that they will continue to improve as a unit after their win over 4-1 Tampines Rovers in the much-anticipated S.League encounter on Sunday.
The win has stretched their lead at the top of the table to five points, whereas Home United, who also won the league match yesterday against Garena Young Lions, leapfrogged Tampines to the second spot with 20 points from nine matches.
While Tampines headed into yesterday's match on a high, a week after ending Home's unbeaten league run, quite a few defensive errors cost them the game. Albirex went 1-0 up in the 28th minute after Naofumi Tanaka headed in a free kick, which was taken from near the centre line.
At the start of the second-half, top-scorer Tsubaso Sano was then brought down inside the box by Tampines defender Shakir Hamzah and the former went on to convert a spot-kick to extend the lead to two. Son Yong Chan gave the Stags a glimmer of hope with his 71st minute striker but Sano and Tanaka scored one more each to seal the game.
"There is no room for complacency for the team. We look at each match separately and see what improvements the team can make. No player on the team should be complacent and we will make sure they will continue to improve," Yoshinaga said, as quoted by the league's official website.
"Towards the middle of the game, we lost our rhythm but to win by 4 goals, we are happy. Some of the goals were lucky for us but we will concentrate on the next game."
Tampines coach lashes out at Hamzah
Hamzah was sent off with 40 minutes to play in the game after the Singapore international was involved in a tussle with Albirex's Shoichiro Sakamoto near the touchline, which according to Tampines' coach Juergen Raab changed the course of the match. The 58-year-old tactician lashed out at his defender, saying that Hamzah punished the team with his inability to control emotions.
"The penalty and the red card from Shakir changed the game. We tried to make a draw but we made mistakes.There was a provocation from the [Albirex] player but the reaction from Shakir, was wrong," Raab said.
"Shakir has punished the team and he must learn and for this, he will pay a fine. He must learn and improve. He must manage his emotions and think what is important for the team."