Albirex vow to bounce back
Albirex coach believes his team can recover from loss and go on another winning run
This defeat hurts but we are made of sterner stuff.
Despite losing 1-0 to their closest S.League rivals Tampines Rovers last night, Albirex Niigata still have a four-point lead and their coach Naoki Naruo was not about to press the panic button.
In fact, he believes his side can go on another long winning streak that put them in this fine position in the first place.
Naruo (photo) said: "When we lost 2-0 to Warriors FC for our first defeat of the season, we responded by winning our next 10 games.
"We can learn from that episode and today's match and work towards the title."
Despite boasting the in-form attacking duo of Atsushi Kawata and Tatsuro Inui - who combined for 21 goals this term - and mercurial playmaker Kento Nagasaki, Albirex never really got going and struggled to create any clear chances.
Naruo gave credit to Tampines and refused to blame bad luck for Fazrul Nawaz's deflected winner in the 80th minute.
Instead, he gave three reasons for his team's failure to score and get a result.
"This was an important game which could have given us a big and maybe insurmountable lead in the title race, and maybe my players felt the added pressure," he said.
"Tampines have very strong players and our weakness was physical contact.
"Tampines used that to their advantage and didn't allow us to play our pass-and-move game.
"Also, we were playing on a softer, natural turf, which is different from the artificial pitch we are used to at Jurong East.
"This result shows we need to continue to work hard and improve if we want to win our first league title." - DAVID LEE