Eagles Suffer Narrow Defeat Despite Valiant Effort Against White Swans
By Andrew Ang on 23 September 2016
Geylang International FC missed the opportunity to move up to fourth place in the Great Eastern Yeo’s S.League standings, as they fell 1-0 to Albirex Niigata (S) at the Jurong East Stadium on Thursday evening.
The Eagles, currently sit on fifth spot, with 28 points from 21 games. With only three games to go, their chances of finishing third or clinching the golden ticket to the AFC Cup next season, is now out of their hands.
Albirex’s captain, Atsushi Shirota netted the only goal of the match for the White Swans, as the Japanese maintained their fine winning momentum and are now seven points ahead of closest title rivals, Tampines Rovers, with four games to go in the season.
Chances were at a premium in the first-half as both teams kept things tight and were determined not to concede first. Nevertheless, the match was filled with enthusiasm and energy, due to both teams’ constant pressing and possession play.
The first attempt of the game, fell to the visitors in the 10th minute, as Yuki Ichikawa rose highest to meet Gabriel Quak’s corner-kick delivery. Unfortunately, the header looped over the defenders, but did not trouble Albirex’s goalkeeper, Eita Kasagawa
Geylang’s custodian, Syazwan Buhari was then called into action in the 22nd minute, when Mikiya Yamada unleashed a belter from distance, but the former stood his ground and made a fine save. Seconds later, Masaya Jitozono curled a long-ranged attempt towards the far-post, but Syazwan was at full stretch, to tip it away for a corner-kick.
In the 28th minute, Geylang almost nicked the opener, but Sahil Suhaimi failed to hit the target as his volley from an acute angle, sailed high and wide.
The White Swans’ playmaker, Jitozono was once again eager to draw first blood in the first-half, as he released a bullet pile driver from 20 yards out. However, ‘Birthday-Boy’ Syazwan, had it under control with a brilliant save.
Albirex were presented a wonderful opportunity to put themselves ahead two minutes before the break, when Hiroyoshi Kamata delivered a deep cross into the box. However, an unmarked Naofumi Tanaka glanced his header narrowly wide of Geylang’s goal and the half-time whistle soon followed after.
The Eagles came flying out of the traps after the restart, with substitute, Anders Aplin looking the brightest amongst all. The Eagles utility player was deployed in central midfield, and almost got on the score sheet five minutes after his introduction.
Nor Azli sprayed a long free-kick into the box, and Anders got on the end of it with a header by the far post. Nevertheless, it was not much of concern for Kasagawa, whom had the angle covered with a fine save.
10 minutes later, Anders was once again caught in the thick of the action, as he intelligently nodded a header towards the path of Ichikawa. Then again, the Eagles failed to find the target, as the towering defender volleyed a tame effort, which shaved inches wide of Albirex’s goal.
With the match seemingly heading for a draw, substitute Rui Kamada got the crowd at the edge of their seats, when he forced a spectacular finger-tip save from Syazwan, with a terrific diving header in an unmarked position.
Nevertheless, off the corner-kick, Albirex broke the deadlock in the 75th minute, as Kento Nagasaki delivered a sumptuous cross and Shirota guided his well-timed header into the back of the net, much to the excitement of the Japanese fans.
The Eagles pushed numbers forward and pressed for the elusive equalizer. However, Geylang could not muster any attempt to convert it into goal, except of a notable effort by Amy Recha in the 85th minute, whom rifled a ‘bazooka’ effort from the edge of the box, which required Kasagawa to thwart away the commendable effort.
Despite numerous crosses and shots, the Eagles were still unable to find the breakthrough, as their Japanese counterparts hung on for three crucial points, with the final whistle following soon after.
Speaking after the game, Geylang International’s Head Coach Hasrin Jailani, could not ask for more from his charges, “There can be no question behind asked about my team’s commitment, hunger and desire. Our game plan was to defend and make sure they do not score. We knew that as long as they don’t score we can counter. Unfortunately, they did and we could have done better in terms of stopping to goals. In open play, there were open chances of both sides. I cannot ask anything more from the players and they should be proud of their performance.”
Geylang International FC will now face Warriors FC at Bedok Stadium on the 14th October 2016, as the Eagles are keen and focused to return to winning ways.
Full-Time: Albirex Niigata (S) FC (Atsushi Shirota 75’) 1 – 0 Geylang International FC
EAGLES’ Editor Man Of The Match: Syazwan Buhari
Geylang International FC: Syazwan Buhari (GK), Grabriel Quak (Amy Recha 73’), Daniel Bennett, Faritz Hameed, Safirul Sulaiman, Al-Qaasimy Rahman (Shahfiq Ghani 82’), Nor Azli Yusoff (C), Shawal Anuar, Sahil Suhaimi, Yuki Ichikawa, Roberto Camarasa (Anders Aplin 66’)
*Photos Courtesy of S.League