Geylang International FC

Eagles devastated by Albirex fightback


A treat for the neutrals,  pure exhilaration for the visitors and utter devastation for the Eagles, after Albirex Niigata came from three goals behind to win Geylang International  4-3 at the Bedok Stadium.

Head coach Jorg Steinebrunner opted for a 4-5-1 line up in a bid to outnumber the Japanese in the middle of the park, fielding Shah Hirul, Fabian Kwok and Franco Chivilo in central midfield.

It seemed to work to perfection early on as the Eagles seemed to threaten early on. After some good work outside the box from Franco Chivilo, the Argentinian laid the ball off for Mustaqim Manzur to run onto.  The winger’s shot from outside the box hit the post and was duly cleared. But the deadlock was soon broken.

A corner, delightfully floated in by Mustaqim Manzur was initially gathered by the goalkeeper. But the custodian failed to hang on and Kento Fukuda capitalized to head the ball into the net. 1-0 to the Eagles and it was all Geylang from then on in the first half.

Albirex Niigata pushed to get a swift equaliser but found a defence led by Kento Fukuda a tough nut to crack as the Eagles cleared ball after ball that was hoisted into their penalty area.

When it was the Eagles’ turn to go on the attack, it resulted in the second goal of the match. Mustaqim Manzur beat his man and crossed in search of Leonel Felice, only for the goalkeeper to come out rushing in an attempt to smother the ball. But, the Albirex custodian inexplicably dropped a clanger, allowing Leonel Felice to tap the ball into the net and double the Eagles’ lead.

The Eagles were not content and surged forward to take advantage of a shell shocked Albirex team. Yuki Ichikawa, who had stayed up front after a set-piece, saw his shot saved by the goalkeeper. The rebound fell kindly to Kento Fukuda who slotted the ball to give Geylang a surprise 3-0 lead.

It seemed that only a moment of magic could steer the Japanese side back on track, and the moment came just before half-time courtesy of the league’s current top scorer, Kazuki Sakamoto, whose shot from outside the box hit the underside of the bar before nestling the back of the net. Lifeline for the visitors at 3-1 and it would prove to be the start of an amazing comeback.

As the players came back onto the pitch for the second half, the Albirex Niigata (S) players were quiet yet focused, ready to do the talking on the pitch.

The Japanese side pushed hard to get the second goal to give themselves a shouting chance of a comeback and were duly rewarded when Koki Akasaka’s shot from inside the box, took a deflection and ended up in the back of the net.

Geylang soon were left deflated after poor defending from the corner left Keisuke Ota with a free header to level matters at 3-3.

But it all got from bad to worse, as former Eagle Norihiro Kawakami leapt highest to head in the winner in what was perhaps the last kick of the match.

The tie against the Japanese, was Geylang’s third match in the space of six days and fatigue could have well been the reason behind their demise on the night.

Visibly upset, head coach Jorg Stienbrunner refused to comment on the match.

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