SINGAPORE: Japanese side Albirex Niigata (S) became the first club in the Singapore Premier League (SPL) to go unbeaten for an entire season after defeating Warriors FC 2-1 on Saturday (Sep 29).
Shun Kumagai's second half goal won the match for the White Swans, after Warriors' Kento Fukuda cancelled out Wataru Murofushi's opener with a late first half penalty.
In 24 league outings, Albirex won 21 times and drew thrice. Balestier Khalsa, Home United and Hougang United were the only teams to have taken points off the three-time league champions.
Albirex also set a new record for the biggest gap in points between the winners and the runners-up. Home finished second with 43 points, 23 behind Albirex's tally of 66.
The previous record of 20 was set in 2002 by Singapore Armed Forces FC (now known as Warriors FC) in the S.League (SPL's predecessor).
Albirex's remarkable season also saw them embarking on a run of 18 straight victories - another record. They wrapped up the title in July, more than two months before the end of the season.
Despite the team's achievements, Albirex head coach Kazuaki Yoshinaga said there is "nothing to boast about".
"It was the third match in one week for my players ... they were tired, but they did well today. They have worked very hard to remain unbeaten," he said.
"We just treated each game as it came along, we also have three draws so this unbeaten season is nothing to boast about. When we set out to play, we want to win every match, if we don’t win we have to reflect because a professional player should set out to win every match," he added.
The Japanese team are still in the running to sweep up all the trophies available once more, having done so in 2016 and 2017.
They currently hold a 3-2 lead on aggregate over Home in the Singapore Cup semi-final. The second leg will be played on Oct 3 and the winner of the tie will take on either Brunei DPMM or Balestier Khalsa in the Singapore Cup final on Oct 6.