Geylang’s Hopes Of RHB Cup Glory Partially Dashed By Albirex
By Kevin Prasad on 29 June 2016
Geylang International’s uphill task of clinching a cup title just got steeper, as the Eagles crashed to a 2-0 defeat at the hands of Albirex Niigata (S) FC, in the first leg of their RHB Singapore Cup Quarter-Finals tie, on Tuesday evening at Jurong East Stadium.
Masaya Jitozono stunned the Eagles with an early opening goal before, Naofumi turned in a header in the second-half to give the White Swans a two-goal advantage, with their return leg due in three days at Jalan Besar Stadium.
The Eagles were determined to achieve a desirable result against the White Swans, however, Geylang were dealt with a lethal blow within 14 seconds into the game. The towering Kazuki Mine knocked down a long punt to Daichi Ishiyama, before a flick from the latter released Jitozono on goal, whom then slotted his attempt under Syazwan Buhari, to break the deadlock.
Despite being baffled by the early goal, Geylang slowly started to regain confidence and went in search of an equalizer, which almost came seven minutes later. Shawal Anuar dispossessed Kento Fujihara on the right flank and relayed a pass to Carlos Delgado, whom launched a rocket which sailed inches above the goal.
In the 24th minute, the Argentine playmaker pounced a loose rebound after a defensive mix-up and unleashed a belter from close range. However, Yosuke Nozawa parried away Delgado’s powerful attempt to safety with a terrific save.
After much ball possession and domination of the game, the last chance of the first-half fell to the visitors, when Delgado released Amy Recha with a reverse pass. The sizzling striker got into a good position, but could only make do with a tame shot towards Nozawa’s gloves in the 38th minute.
After the break, the Eagles were recharged and went into an offensive mode as Gabriel Quak checked in Nor Azli. However, the Eagles once again fell prey to the White Swans in the 52nd minute, as Tanaka rose the highest to meet Ichiyama’s corner-kick delivery and headed home to double Abirex’s lead.
Having a massive ‘two-goal’ hurdle to overcome, Geylang then responded by introducing Sahil Suhaimi and new signing, Mark Hartmann to replace Fartiz Hameed and Amy Recha respectively.
The colossal target-man, Hartmann combined well with the nippy Sahil and were presented a glorious chance to reduce the deficit in the 68th minute, but the formers’ shot blasted narrowly wide of the mark.
In the midst of throwing bodies forward, the Eagles almost suffered a deeper wound – another goal. Nevertheless, an alert Syazwan rushed off his line to block, Atsushi Kawata from extending the lead with an explosive sliding tackle, despite the furious penalty appeals by the Japanese.
Soon later, Hartmann weaved through the White Swans’ defence, but the Philippines international’s shot was well covered by Nozawa. Barely a minute later, Safirul Sulaiman was brilliantly released in the box, by Shawal’s neat flick. However, the former fired a rasping bullet straight into Nozawa to deny the Eagles any consolation goal, as the reigning RHB Cup champions, held on for the victory as time soon expired.
Speaking after the game, Geylang International’s Head Coach Hasrin Jailani, was upset with the result, “If there was not an early goal, we would have stood a good chance to get something out of the game, as the players gave their 100%. Only thing we need to do on Friday, is to not let them score early nor at all.”
The ex-Singapore international also added, “When Mark (Hartmann) and Sahil (Suhaimi) came in they changed things a lot in terms of attacking. If you look at it, players did what they supposed to do, but we conceded the goal too early. Nevertheless, we will go all guns blazing at JBS and aim to put the ball into the net.”
‘The Battle of the Birds’ between the Eagles and White Swans will certainly whip up a fine cuisine of attacking football when the two sides meet for the second leg of their RHB Singapore Cup Quarter Finals tie on Friday evening.
Full Time : Albirex Niigata (S) FC (Masaya Jitzono 1’, Naofumi Tanaka 52′) 2 – 0 Geylang International FC
EAGLES’ Editor Man Of The Match: Nor Azli Yusoff
Geylang International FC: Syazwan Buhari (GK), Daniel Bennett, Shariff Samat, Yuki Ichikawa, Al-Qaasimy Rahman, Nor Azli Yusoff (C) (Gabriel Quak 51′), Carlos Delgado, Safirul Sulaiman, Faritz Hameed (Sahil Suhaimi 62′), Shawal Anuar, Amy Recha (Mark Hartmann 62′)
*Photos Courtesy of S.League