SINGAPORE - Following a 3-1 defeat by Warriors FC at the Jurong East Stadium last Friday, Albirex Niigata's hopes of winning the Great Eastern-Yeo's S-League title are all but over.
With five games to go, the Japanese outfit are 14 points behind runaway leaders Tampines Rovers, who beat Tanjong Pagar United by the same scoreline at the Jalan Besar Stadium.
But Albirex head coach Koichi Sugiyama insisted that his players will continue to fight until the title race is mathematically over.
"We're not thinking about the league table because we are focusing on the next game against Tanjong Pagar," said the Japanese coach, whose team are now without a win in eight games.
"In football we have to get results, despite being able to play good football.
"We won't break as a team and we are not finished yet. We have to be professional and play good football in every game."
After a goalless first half, Albirex broke the deadlock in the 51st minute after Bruno Castanheira, whom Warriors coach Alex Weaver dubbed Albirex's "Arjen Robben" during his post-match press conference, cut into the penalty area from the right wing and curled a beautiful shot past Hassan Sunny.
However, the White Swans' lead lasted only 18 minutes before goalkeeper Hiroaki Hara was drawn out by Warriors' Tatsuro Inui's run on the left, allowing substitute Sufian Anuar to tap in the Japanese midfielder's square pass.
The Warriors then took the lead in the 84th minute after Shimpei Sakurada was hauled down by Shuhei Hotta.