White Swans end the Eagles’ unbeaten run
By Deepanraj Ganesan on 9 May 2014
Geylang International’s seven match unbeaten run came to a screeching halt at the Jurong East Stadium as they were undone by Albirex Niigata (S) in a pulsating match that ended 4-2 to the hosts. The home side took the lead against the run of play through Kazuki Sakamoto after the forward ran clear of the Eagles defence. The Eagles however responded brilliantly, drawing level with a stunner from Fabian Kwok before a remarkable team goal saw the away side take a 2-1 lead. But it all went downhill from there as two defensive errors and slack marking allowed Albirex Niigata to score three goals and finish the match as winners and slayers of the Eagles’ much talked about unbeaten streak under Jorg Steinebrunner.
Heading into the match off the back of impressive results against Tampines Rovers and Home United, Albirex wasted little time in justifying the favorites tag. An intelligent through ball from midfield caught the defensive duo of Kento Fukuda and Joaquin Lopez out and left Kazuki Sakamoto all the time in the world to apply a finish. Apply a finish, he did as he wheeled away in delight to celebrate the game’s opener.
The Eagles found their rhythm after going a goal down and rallied themselves for a comeback. Kento Fukuda and Yuki Ichikawa did well to test their counterparts and former teammates, forcing a save each from the opposition goalkeeper. But soon, Geylang International drew level in breath-taking fashion.
As Albirex Niigata hoofed the ball away to clear their lines, Fabian Kwok set his sights on the ball. The midfielder then connected with a volley that sent the ball back in the direction where it came from, past the hapless goalkeeper. As Fabian’s team mates ran over to celebrate the scorcher, talk of the goal of the season award had already started in the stands. Needless to say, Fabian was pleased with the goal as he spoke to Eagles TV after the match. He said: “I was expecting the goalkeeper to clear the ball, and i was hoping it would come straight to me and it did. I wasn’t expecting such a connection with the strike.” He, however, rued the result as he continued: Its not very nice to score an amazing goal but have a defeat at the end of the day.” The last notable action of the first half, but no one would have had the right to complain with the quality of goal they had just witnessed.
Fabian Kwok turned in a tidy performance, helping himself to an unforgettable strike
The second half started in supreme style for the Eagles. Ridhuan Muhammad capped off a brilliant team move, as he finished off his one on one attempt after being fed through by a smart ball from Fabian Kwok which brought a smile onto the face of Jorg Steinebrunner. The German sang praises of the build-up, describing the goal as “the best goal I have seen since I came here”
The Eagles celebrating captain, Ridhuan Muhammad goal who capped off a brilliant team move
The cheers from the Eagles camp however would end with their second goal. A tired looking Jalal Jasim, failed to stop a cross from being whipped in before an unmarked Shuhei Hotta ghosted in to apply the finish. Slack marking from the Eagles but their defensive display was to get worse.
As the ball was crossed in from the left flank and met by an Albirex player, few expected Kazuya Okazaki’s weak volley to trouble Joey Sim. But the Eagles’ custodian uncharacteristically let the ball slip into the net. Perhaps an undeserved lead, but the scoreboard didn’t lie as it read 3-2.
The final nail in the coffin was firmly put in place 10 minutes from time after a defensive calamity. Coming out to collect the ball, a lack of communication resulted in Joey Sim colliding with his defenders, leaving Kento Nagasaki with the ease of finishing into the net.
With the Eagles chasing after the game, there were bound to be spaces left behind for Albirex to take advantage of on the counter. Mustaqim Manzur proved to be the unlucky one who had to pay for it as he brought down an Albirex player as the home side looked to break. A second yellow for the winger and the Eagles were made to finish the match with 10 men.
Speaking to EaglesTV post match, Jorg Steinebrunner felt the scoreline was not reflective of the game. He said: “”I don’t think we are two goals worse than Albirex. I think in attack we performed quite well. But defensively we made four mistakes which cost us the game.” He also added that the encounter was a great advert for the league, saying: “For me, it was a very good S.League game but unfortunately we were the ones who lost it.”
FULL TIME : Albirex Niigata (S) (12′ Kazuki Sakamoto, 54′ Shuhei Hotta, 70′ Kazuya Okazaki, 80′ Kento Nagasaki) 4-2 Geylang International (32′ Fabian Kwok, 46′ Ridhuan Muhammad)
Starting Line-up: Joey Sim, Yuki Ichikawa, Kento Fukuda, Joaquin Lopez, Jalal Jasim (66′ Hamqammal Shah), Ridhuan Muhammad (C), Fabian Kwok (77′ Hyder Ismail), Franco Chivilo, Mustaqim Manzur, Aliff Shafaein (64′ Hafiz Nor), Leonel Felice