Japanese side Albirex Niigata have clinched the Singapore Premier League once again.
On 11 August, the White Swans beat Tanjong Pagar United 3-2, enough for them to earn back to back league titles with two more matches to spare, and with an eight-point advantage over the Lion City Sailors.
The boys in orange have now picked up the Singapore Premier League title six times since 2016.
Only Brunei DPMM (2019) and Lion City Sailors (2021) have managed to stop them during their reign.
Over 22 games so far, Kazuaki Yoshinaga’s men have only lost twice, both to the teams just below them – Tampines Rovers in March and then against Lion City Sailors in May (see photo below).
The Sailors – expected to break Albirex Niigata’s reign this year with an injection of youth and a purge of the old – was not able to dethrone the boys from Jurong East.
Albirex Niigata’s run in the Singapore Premier League over the last decade speaks volumes of its professionalism and its ability.
While their business model is still largely a mystery, what has helped them build a wider base of fans include the signing of local players like Hassan Sunny, Nicky Melvin Singh, Jarrel Ong, V Shakthi and Hyrulnizam Jumaat.
The club is also known to be serious about its community outreach activities.
Albirex Niigata winning the 2023 title will once again ignite the debate about whether Singapore clubs have enough in their tanks, and enough ambition to aim for the top.
At least two clubs are trying.
But as 2023 has proven, it is still not enough yet.
MAIN PHOTO: ALBIREX NIIGATA