Eagles Downed By High-Flying White Swans
By Kevin Prasad on 21 May 2016
Geylang International FC winning streak came to an abrupt halt when the Eagles suffered a 2-0 defeat, at the hands of Albirex Niigata (S) at Jalan Besar Stadium on Friday evening.
Naofumi Tanaka and Masaya Jitozono struck in the dying seconds of either side of half-time, to ensure that the White Swans remain at the top of the S.League, whilst Geylang succumbed to their third loss of the season.
The hosts, Albirex came out of the blocks quickly as they struck the ball around and dominated possession, against the feisty Eagles.
In the first real chance of the game, Atsushi Kawata struck an extraordinary free-kick which crashed against the post and into play. Hiroyashi Kamata, was quickest to pounce on the rebound, but blazed his shot well over the goal from close range.
Against the run of play, Geylang had a golden opportunity to draw first blood through Branko Cubrilo. Gabriel Quak raced down the flank and dispatched an incisive pass to the ‘Croatian Bull’, but Branko’s first touch was a tad too heavy, as Albirex’s Yosuke Nozawa rushed out to claim the ball.
Two minutes later, the Eagles had another chance, when Amy Recha broke free on the left-wing and sprinted down the flank. He then was caught in a dilemma on whether to shoot or square to Branko in the box, before Kento Fujihara made a timely challenge to regain possession.
Soon later, Tatsuro Inui took advantage of a poor clearance and hammered an audacious lob from 35 yards out. However, Syazwan was alert as he made a stunning fingertip save to deny an opener.
The enticing fixture seemed to be heading to a goalless stalemate with the first-half drawing to a close. Nevertheless, Albirex opened the scoring with Naofumi’s glancing header, just seconds before the half-time whistle was blown.
Shuto Inaba caught the Eagles’ defence napping when he swung in a pin-point cross towards the left-back, whom steered his header past Syazwan, to give the White Swans the lead.
Despite the deficit, the visitors came out raring in the second half in attempt to clinch the elusive equalizer. Geylang did have their fair share of chances, but were profligate in front of goal as they subsequently misfired their efforts.
To add on more firepower and in search of the equalizing goal, Geylang executed a double substitution by introducing Carlos Delgado and Sahil Suhaimi, whom respectively replaced Nor Azli and Amy Recha in the 65th minute.
However, the Eagles were on the back foot multiple times and had to thank Syazwan’s heroics as he singlehandedly prevented Albirex, from extending their lead.
In the 67th minute, Atsushi dribbled past the Geylang’s defence with his nifty footwork before releasing a pile driver destined for the bottom corner. However, the Eagles’ custodian made an exceptional diving save. Five minutes later, Syazwan marvellously punched away Tomoki Menda’s towering header from point-blank range.
The ‘men in green and white’ started to feel desperate as time was running out and the Eagles introduced Shawal Anuar whom checked in for Stanely Ng in the 75th minute. The fleet-footed forward made an instant impact, when he picked up a long pass with a sublime touch, before galloping his way into the box, from the half-way line. However, he failed to land the sucker punch, as he only managed to fire a tame shot straight to Nozawa’s arms.
With 10 minutes remaining, Geylang’s Japanese lanky defender Yuki Ichikawa, was instructed to play as a forward to hold up and win headers. Then again, the Eagles could not get the ball successfully to their ‘big men’, as Albirex closed their counterparts swiftly. The Bedok-based club, then poured the numbers upfront and pressed forward ruthlessly, to deploy an all-out attack contingency plan.
The ‘do-or-die’ plan did showcase the spirit and character of the Eagles, however the tactic almost back-fired, as the White Swans executed a quick counter-attacking move in the 87th minute. Yet again, the ‘sweeper-keeper’, Syazwan placed his body on the line and blocked off two shooting chances with perfect sliding tackles.
Nonetheless, soon later the White Swans sealed their victory and three crucial points with a ‘knockout blow’ goal, deep into injury time. Albirex’s ‘super-sub’, Jitozono whose shot ricocheted off the woodwork just seconds after his introduction, discharged a 25-yard rocket straight into the net, with virtually the last kick of the game.
Speaking after the game, Geylang International’s Head Coach Hasrin Jailani, was discontented with the result but was pleased with the performance, “The goal itself was out of the blue but, we always kept on pushing tor the equalizer. Losing 1-0 or losing 2-0, it’s still a loss, so the players did their best in pressing for a goal, but it just did not end up in the net,” said Hasrin.
The 40-year-old also added, “It’s just another loss for us tonight. I felt we played well and I’m sure the boys can pick up their mood when they face Warriors FC next week in the Singapore Cup.”
Geylang International FC will now face Warriors FC in their RHB Singapore Cup Preliminary Round fixture, at the Jalan Besar Stadium on 27th May 2016!
Full Time: Albirex Niigata (S) FC (Naofumi Tanaka 45’, Masaya Jitozono 90’) 2 – 0 Geylang International FC
EAGLES’ Editor Man Of The Match: Faritz Hameed
Geylang International FC: Syazwan Buhari (GK), Yuki Ichikawa, Shariff Samat, Gabriel Quak, Daniel Bennett, Fartiz Hameed, Safirul Sulaiman, Stanely Ng (74’ Shawal Anuar), Branko Cubrilo, Amy Recha (67’ Sahil Suhaimi), Nor Azli Yusoff (C) (67’ Carlos Delgado)
*Photos Courtesy of S.League