Sano's Inspirational Performance Mars Hariss's Debut

Hariss Harun had a decent debut against Albirex Niigata(S).
Photo: Great Eastern - Hyundai S.League

It was a match which saw Home United lose two points rather than winning a point. The Protectors were seemingly cruising to a victory when Faris Ramli slotted in a second goal in the span of three minutes in the 36th minute. Alas, they only had themselves to blame for their profligacy after going two goals up, which gave Albirex Niigata (S) a chance to come back to draw the game.

Home United were playing some of the best football I've seen this season when they held the majority of the possession in the first half with the duo of Abdil Qaiyyim and Irfan Fandi keeping the Protectors' defence watertight. It was also perhaps the first time I've seen Albirex Niigata (S) so disjointed, losing balls in midfield and having difficulty stringing passes together.

Hariss Harun was expected to make an immediate impact in his debut for the Protectors, and impress he did. The midfield general was everywhere, intercepting passes and starting offensive moves which had the White Swans backpeddling continuously. Izzdin Shafiq had plenty of room to weave his magic, while Khairul Nizam and Song Ui-Young made a few smart runs to bewilder Takuya Akiyama and Yasutaka Yanagi.  Juma'at Jantan was unlucky late in the first half , thumping a header past Yosuke Nozowa only to be ruled offside for what could have been his 10th career league goal for the Protectors.

Home United's momentum was broken when a moment of magic saw Tsubasa Sano create a goal from almost nothing, sending an unstoppable shot past a stranded Hassan Sunny at the stroke of half-time. The goal seemed to have deflated the Protectors as Albirex came out a different side after the break, shifting the balance back in the White Swans' favour.

Decent turnout despite the match being screened live on Toggle.

More space was created by Albirex and the White Swans' standout player this season, Ryota Nakai created lots of problems by constantly knocking on Home United's door with his penetrating runs, linking up well with Ryuya Motoda. The pressure was evident when the usually cool-headed Izzdin Shafiq lunged out in frustration at an Albirex player in the 74th minute, earning a yellow card for his tackle.

Albirex's comeback was complete when they earned a penalty through the hardworking Sano in the 88th minute, with Kento Nagasaki sending Hassan Sunny the wrong way.

Home United would be disappointed at the lost opportunity to overtake Albirex but the White Swans have a bye in the following matchweek. The Protectors will face Hougang United at Hougang Stadium in what is expected to be a tough fixture; the Cheetahs have not lost at home this season.

Article: Aaron Chan | Photo: Great Eastern Hyundai S.League / Aaron Chan
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