Eagles’ Fairytale Comes To An End As White Swans Book Final’s Spot
By Andrew Ang on 21 July 2017
Geylang International FC unbeaten streak of seven games, came to an screeching halt on Tuesday evening at Jurong East Stadium, as Albirex Niigata (S) FC denied the Eagles a spot in The New Paper League Cup Finals with 4-0 triumph.
A brace from Tsubasa Sano coupled with a goal each from Takuya Akiyama and Ryota Nakai were enough for the White Swans to book a third successive League Cup Final appearance, their fourth in the history of the competition.
The scoreline was perhaps a harsh reflection on the visitors, who were the more enterprising side of the two as they created a surprisingly good number of opportunities at the start of the game.
In the opening stages, Geylang started on a bright note and pressed high on offense. There were multiple attempts in playing Victor Coto and Amy Recha through on goal, but Yosuke Nozawa was quickest off his line to deny any shots on goal.
In the 13th minute, Safirul had a wonderful chance to open the scoring, but his free-kick went straight into the palms of Nozawa. After that attempt, for the next 10 minutes it was all about Geylang as the Eagles continued to bombard the Albirex goal, with multiple crosses and numerous long ranged free-kicks, but had no chance in finding a breakthrough.
Against the run of play, Albirex then had a brilliant chance to open the scoring but was denied by the woodwork. In the 25th minute, Kento Nagasaki pounced onto Yuki Ichikawa’s half clearance, and unleashed a first-time volley which crashed off the crossbar, much to the relief of the Eagles.
However three minutes later, there was no denying the White Swans as Albirex broke the deadlock through Akiyama, whom rose the highest to head home Nagasaki’s pin-point corner-kick delivery.
With that momentum, the White Swans could have doubled their lead in the 33rd minute, but Syazwan Buhari’s cat-like reflexes denied Sano’s point-blank range with an outstanding save.
Four minutes before half-time, Geylang had a final chance to level the proceedings through their Costa Rican forward. Nevertheless, Coto exuberant top corner effort was paaried away to safety Albirex’s custodian, Nozawa.
After the break, chances were at premium as both teams cautiously approached the remaining 45 minutes and were unable to break down its opposing defensive back-lines.
The closest Geylang came was in the 55th minute, when Prime League starlet brought down a long punt with a deft touch, faked a shot and then hammered a strike from distance. Unfortunately, the effort sailed narrowly high and wide.
Syazwan then made two saves in quick succession, as he produced back-to-back saves to deny Nakai and Naofumi Tanaka on the scoresheet. However, with time expiring and Geylang pushing numbers high up the pitch, Sano punished the Eagles in the 79th minute with another goal.
The White Swans intercepted a pass and unleashed a vicious counter-attack, as Sano completed the rout, with a simple tap-in from close range to double Albirex’s lead.
After which, it was Albirex who ran riot against a demoralized ‘greenwhitearmy’ as Sano then got his second of the night just two minutes later, sneaking around the far-post, to head home a right-wing cross which went in off the post past a rooted Syazwan.
The damage was not done yet, as Albirex rubbed salt into Geylang’s wounds with another goal, two minutes from time when Nakai sprang the offside trap and rounded an onrushing Syazwan before slotting into an empty net, with the final whistle following soon after to bring the Eagles’ ordeal to an end.
Speaking after the game, Geylang International’s Head Coach Hasrin Jailani, could not ask for more from his charges, “We played well in the first-half and did well to hold Albirex. We may not have caused many problems but we kept possession well and were caught on the break for the last three goals. Never mind that, now we still have ten league games to go and I hope we can go up the table do well. I’m going to play Brunei DPMM and Albirex next, those are tough and a different ball game altogether but we will do our best.”
Geylang International FC will now travel to Bandar Seri Begawan Stadium, to take on Brunei DPMM on 24 July, as the Eagles are keen and focused to return to winning ways.
Full-Time: Albirex Niigata (S) FC (Takuya Akiyama 28’, Tsubasa Sano 80’, 82’, Ryota Nakai 88’) 4 – 0 Geylang International FC
EAGLES’ Editor Man Of The Match: Noor Ariff
Geylang International FC: Syazwan Buhari (GK), Faritz Hameed, Yuki Ichikawa, Anders Aplin, Al-Qaasimy Rahman, Safirul Sulaiman, Ricardo Sendra, Noor Ariff, Isa Halim (C) (Gabriel Quak 68’), Victor Coto (Shahfiq Ghani 52’), Amy Recha (Shawal Anuar 60’)
*Photos Courtesy of S.League