Eagles Unfortunate Against High-Flying White Swans
By Andrew Ang on 12 May 2017
A valiant defensive showing from Geylang International was not enough to overcome Albirex Niigata (S) as the Eagles fell to a 1- 0 defeat at the Jalan Besar Stadium on Thursday evening.
With Albirex scoring in every game they played so far and Geylang facing injuries cum suspensions, the Bedok-based club began the match cautiously, with an unorthodox 5-4-1 formation.
It looked as though Geylang’s defensive tactical display would earn the ‘greenwhitearmy’ a point, but Ryota Nakai dashed the Eagles’ hopes with a 53rd minute winner, to extend the White Swans’ unbeaten start.
While the White Swans dominated possession from start to end, the Eagles were dangerous on the counter, as both sides played out a highly entertaining affair.
Albirex registered the first shot of the game in the sixth minute, but Sano’s rocket sailed high and wide.Five minutes later, Nagasaki whipped in a delicious free-kick towards Akiyama, but the latter’s resulting attempt, whizzed past the post.
Geylang reacted to Albirex’s hot start by playing a higher defensive line, which caused the Albirex attackers to be caught offside on numerous occasions.
The Eagles then had a glimpse of hope in the form of a counter attack. In the 33rd minute, Victor Coto dribbled half the length of pitch and raced past multiple orange shirts into the box. However, the Costa Rican’s finesse shot, narrowly curled wide of the right corner.
Shortly, after the imminent threat, Albirex regrouped and had a fantastic chance to draw first blood in the 37th minute. Sakamoto was put through on goal, after an intelligent dummy by Nakai. However the former, scoffed his shot in front of goal, and both sides headed into their respective dressing room, soon later.
Albirex continued in the same fashion after the restart, and almost netted the opener with Hiroyshi Kamata’s missile from distance. However, Syazwan Buhari pulled off a magnificent diving save, to parry away the goal-bound effort, to safety.
With that resulting rebound, Geylang broke free and turned defence into offense immediately. Amy Recha, picked up a long punt from the back, and launched an ambitious 30-yard effort from range. Albirex’s custodian, Yosuke Nozawa, whom was hardly tested throughout the game, executed a master class outstretched save to deny the effort.
After much possession and attacking displays, Albirex finally got the goal they were searching for in the 53rd minute.
Nakai managed to surge past a couple of Geylang defenders before firing a crisp low shot into the bottom left corner to give the White Swans the lead.
With a goal down, Geylang then altered their formation to come out of their defensive shell and started to press offensively higher for the equalizer.
The Eagles, came closest in the 63rd minute when Safirul Sulaiman was put through on goal by Coto’s back-heel. The fleet-footed winger, then mazed his way into the box, but surprisingly got his bearing wrongs, as he ballooned his shot way off target.
Victor then had two chances to draw level for the Eagles. His first attempt in the 70th minute was declined by Nozawa in an one-on-one situation, whilst his second attempt in the dying minutes, was just inches away from the left-hand post, as he released a pile-driver from the edge of the box.
Despite huffing and puffing throughout the game, the Eagles were cruelly punished for their resilient performance as Geylang suffered yet another unfortunate defeat in Jalan Besar.
Speaking after the game, Geylang’s Head Coach Hasrin Jailani was filled with mixed emotions about the result, ‘I am disappointed with the result, but not the performance. Because of all the injuries and suspensions, we had to play with a back five but the players worked very hard,” said the 40-year-old Eagles’ alumni.
The former Singapore international also added, “I want the team to be more consistent. Defensively we are sound, but in attack we need to be more composed in front of goal and work on our finishing.”
Geylang International FC will now host Hougang United at Jalan Besar Stadium on next Saturday, 20th May, to kick-start the second round of the S.League fixtures.
Full Time: Geylang International FC 0 – 1 [Ryota Nakai 53’] Albirex Niigata (S) FC
EAGLES’ Editor Man Of The Match: Safirul Sulaiman
Geylang International FC: Syazwan Buhari (GK), Darren Teh, Faritz Hameed, Yuki Ichikawa, Al-Qaasimy Rahman, Safirul Sulaiman, Amy Recha (Nor Azli Yusoff 64’), Isa Halim (C), Ricardo Sendra (Asshukrie Wahid 81’), Gabriel Quak (Shahfiq Ghani 81’), Victor Coto
*Photos Courtesy of S.League