Geylang International FC

Eagles’ Valiant Efforts Not Enough To Turn The Tide

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Geylang International fell short against Albirex Niigata (S) FC as the Eagles were eliminated in their 2016 RHB Singapore Cup Quarter-Final battle, on Friday night at Jalan Besar Stadium.

The Bedok-based club figured a 2-2 stalemate against the White Swans in the second leg of the series. However, the Eagles failed to advance to the next round after the reigning champions, Albirex won the matchup on an aggregate score of 4-2, courtesy of its 2-0 victory in the first leg encounter last Tuesday.

Geylang were determined to turn the tables and overhaul Albirex’s lead, as they drew first blood after Mark Hartmann‘s header inside the box. The Eagles then doubled their lead before the break, as Sahil Suhaimi’s thunderbolt capped off Geylang’s rousing performance.

However, a second-half brace from Atsushi Kawata which includes a rasping shot and a perfect spot-kick conversion confirmed the Eagles exit from the prestigious cup tournament.

Resolute to reduce the deficit, the Eagles pressed forward from the kick-off and were almost rewarded with an early goal when Carlos Delgado had a golden opportunity in the sixth minute. However, the Argentine playmaker and Eagles’ top goal scorer was unable to break the deadlock as his close ranged snapshot went straight at Albirex custodian Yosuke Nozawa.

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Nevertheless, the Eagles’ persistence broke their Japanese counterparts’ resistance, soon later. A moment of brilliance allowed Gabriel to deliver a pin-point cross towards Hartmann, whom smashed home the opener with a towering header, to record his first goal in Geylang colours in his first start.

With the White Swans’ aggregate lead reduced to a solitary goal, Albirex pursued for an instant equalizer as they tweaked to an offensive formation.  Then again, Syazwan Buhari was in the way of the Japanese blitzkrieg as the budding custodian executed three magnificent stops, in the space of six minutes.

Just when the first-half was coming to a close, Geylang doubled their lead to level the aggregate score at 2-2 in the 43rd minute. Sahil was given too much space outside the box, as he pounced on the loose ball with a fantastic pile driver, which scorched into the bottom left corner, leaving the flailing Nozawa, no chance at all.

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With the mission accomplished in the opening 45 minutes, Geylang were tipped to land the knockout blow in the next period as they emerged from their dressing room, reenergized and motivated.

Gabriel could have made it three for the Eagles in the 62nd minute when Delgado released him on goal with an intelligent pass, but Nozawa pulled off a stunning save.

Then again, the Eagles ran out of steam as they were kept on the back foot by a rejuvenated Albirex side which converted back to the 5-3-2 formation that has allowed them to clinch 10 victories in a row.

Hiroyoshi Kamata was released by Kawata’s intelligent pass as the former was set to break through on goal, but the veteran Daniel Bennett denied any attempt with a world-class recovering tackle.

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The tactical switch proved to pay it dividends in the 64th minute, as Kawata latched onto a long punt over the back line, before slotting home a goal, to put the White Swans ahead in the tie.

Barely a minute later, Philippines national striker, Hartmann almost pulled Geylang level as he unleashed a thumping volley from distance, but Nozawa got back in time to tip the cheeky attempt over the bar.

With Geylang trailing by a goal, the Eagles’ started to throw bodies forward and were expected to net a third goal to force extra-time.

However, in the 76th minute, the White Swans were awarded with a penalty-kick – the perfect opportunity to seal the deal, as Yuki Ichikawa was penalized for bringing down Kawata inside the box.

Despite all the pressure, Kawata stepped up and sent Syazwan the wrong way, as the former dispatched his spot-kick successfully, to salvage the initial 2 goal advantage.

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With over 10 minutes reaming, Geylang did not give up hope and continued chasing down the lead. However, the closest they came to scoring again was in the 84th minute, when Hartmann’s point-blank header crashed against the crossbar and out of play.

Time soon expired and Geylang’s courageous efforts were not enough to salvage the tie as they bowed out 2-4 on aggregate, yet the feeling was that, for the fourth year in a row, it was so close, yet so far, as the team had given a good showing in the tournament, but had to part ways in the Quarter-Finals.

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Speaking after the game, Geylang International’s Head Coach Hasrin Jailani, was filled with mixed emotions, “I am disappointed with the result but not the performance, as the boys gave their all and cancel out the 2-0 lead within the first-half”.

The ex-Singapore international also added, “Even when they score their first goal, I still believed we could come back but the second goal made it really difficult for us. In the end, we didn’t lose tonight; the first leg result killed us but the players gave more than 100 per cent and that was very pleasing”.

Geylang would now enjoy a few days break, before embarking in ‘The New Paper League Cup 2016’ journey, in which the Eagles would face Balestier Khalsa FC at Toa Payoh Stadium on 14 July 2016.

Full Time : Geylang International FC (Mark Hartmann 23’ , Sahil Suhaimi 43’) 2 – 2 Albirex Niigata (S) FC (Atsushi Kawata 64’, {Pen} 76′)

EAGLES’ Editor Man Of The Match: Mark Hartmann                             

Geylang International FC: Syazwan Buhari (GK), Yuki Ichikawa, Shariff Samat (Faritz Hameed 72′), Daniel Bennett, Al-Qaasimy Rahman (Stanely Ng 82′), Safirul Sulaiman, Nor Azli Yusoff (C) (Shawal Anuar 82′), Carlos Delgado, Gabriel Quak, Sahil Suhaimi, Mark Hartmann

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*Photos Courtesy of S.League

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