The 2011 S.League Coach of the Year was over the moon with his team's style of play while his counterpart Steven Tan believes it was just not a good day for the StagsAfter almost two years. Koichi Sugiyama broke his personal jinx of not recording a win against Tampines Rovers in the league when Albirex Niigata overcame the reigning S.League champions 1-0 at the Jurong East stadium.
But speaking to the media after the match, Sugiyama appeared unconcerned and said: “I don’t care about past seasons' results. This year’s Albirex beat Tampines and that’s the point.”
One thing for certain was that, he was satisfied with his team's play as he was smiling throughout the post-match interview.
“The important thing today was that we could control the flow the game," he said.
“The players all put in a wonderful performance and I think the reason behind it is because Tampines is a very good team and thus gave us a good challenge."
He also believed that the recent mix of results brought his team's play to a higher level.
“We didn’t get the results we wanted in the some of the games and it gave the team a chance to reflect and learn to deal with losing, thus raising the standard of the team," explained Sugiyama.
“We always wanted to control the game, and match by match, we improved on our controlling. By controlling the game, we can play our football.”
For Tampines coach Steven Tan, it was a tight game and the difference was that the home side made their chances count.
“It’s a very tight game and one goal will separate the teams," he said of the match.
"We had our chances and they had their chances and they scored a goal.
“The players gave their all but just that they couldn’t put the ball into the net.
“We get into good positions [during the match] and sometimes on a good day, we will finish it. So what happen today is that we left our scoring boots at home."
The Stags appeared to be on the back foot for large portions of the game, as they were not able to deal with Albirex's fast-pace game.
When asked if his team struggled to cope with the White Swans, Tan said: “No, no. You know how the Japanese play and we just have to contain and not play to their pace."
"We did well in the first half, then second half they scored with that one chance, other than that, they did not have many chances.”
Steven perhaps was right, that it was just not Tampines' day, as midfielder Mustafic Fahrudin went off with a knee injury minutes before the final whistle.
Imran Sahib and Anaz Hadee also picked up a yellow card each, which brought their individual tally to four thus ruling them out of the clash against the Warriors next week.
But the Tan was optimistic.
"The other players will give their all so no worries," he said confidently.
"We will focus on the AFC Cup game against Kitchee FC next week first then think about the SAF game.”