Singapore Premier League • August 18, 2018

Albirex put four past ravaged Geylang


The champions got back to winning ways against opponents who suffered two red cards

Fuad Ramli (left) was sent off eight minutes from time.

SINGAPORE, 18 AUG 2018 – A complete performance from Albirex Niigata FC (S) saw the Great Eastern-Hyundai Singapore Premier League champions crush nine-man Geylang International FC 4-0 on Saturday evening at the Jurong East Stadium.

It was a game where everything that could have gone wrong for the Eagles went wrong – the eight-placed side named just four substitutes, had a player sent off in each half, and scored an own goal late on.

Shun Kumagai had opened the scoring early in the first half for Albirex, while Taku Morinaga and Hiroyoshi Kamata added to the scoreline in a five-minute second half spell.

The result extended their unbeaten run to 42 straight matches in all competitions, stretching back to last year.

On the other hand, Geylang have conceded 54 times in 22 games – the worst record in the SPL, 18 more than Young Lions, the next worst.

With seven players out injured, the Eagles set up defensively but any hopes of limiting Albirex were dashed after they conceded just eight minutes into the match.

Geylang had cleared their lines from a corner seconds earlier, but the ball was quickly recovered by the Japanese side and Daiki Asaoka floated a wonderful ball in for centre-back Kumagai to attack and open the scoring.

Kamata then did well to pick out Hoshino inside the box, but the SPL’s leading scorer fluffed his effort and allowed Geylang goalkeeper Basil Chan to gather the ball easily.

A minute later, it was Singaporean forward Adam Swandi who missed for the Japanese side, before Chan was tested again by Shuhei Sasahara’s free-kick from way out.

Geylang found themselves in deeper trouble after Azhar Sairudin was given his marching orders just after the half-hour mark for what appeared to be an innocuous challenge on Morinaga.

The referee had initially walked away after blowing for a free-kick, but changed his mind and flashed a second yellow card at the Eagles attacking midfielder.

The decision came as a shock for the Geylang players, who protested the decision to no avail.

Down to ten men, Geylang defended even deeper. A quick break then saw them get their first crack at the Albirex goal on 42 minutes, but Ryan Syaffiq’s effort from just outside the area was not enough to trouble Yohsuke Nozawa.

The second half was not much different from the first, with Albirex piling the pressure on Geylang.

Morinaga wasted another superb chance, firing Asaoka’s lofted pass into the stadium carpark behind the goal, while Adam couldn’t find the finish after showing some nifty footwork to fool two defenders.

The Eagles got their first foray into the Albirex box only on 53 minutes, via yet another rare counter-attack. Ryan beat Kenya Takahashi to a stray long ball from the back and found his way into the danger area but with no support, he lost the ball under heavy pressure.

Albirex then scored twice in a five-minute spell to make it 3-0, putting the game beyond any doubt.

Morinaga fired in a stupendous strike into the top left corner from inside the box, before Kamata finished off a laser-guided cross from Takahashi.

Morinaga then fired another effort narrowly wide, before Hoshino shanked the ball wide from the penalty spot on 82 minutes after Yuki Ichikawa dragged the striker down inside the area.

Geylang were reduced to just nine men after a red card was shown to Fuad Ramli for what appeared to be dissent on 87 minutes as Albirex were preparing to take a free-kick.

Then in injury time, Darren Teh headed into his own net as he attempted to clear Sasahara’s knock on from a corner, compounding the misery for the visitors.

Albirex Head Coach Kazuaki Yoshinaga: “Today we scored an early goal, but Geylang still defended quite stoutly. We didn’t have many scoring chances. In the second half, we told the players to be more aggressive in attack and added a few more goals; the most important thing is that we did not concede a goal. We kept a clean sheet and we are happy.

“Although we have already won the SPL title, I told the players they are fighting for their contracts next year; nothing has been decided and everyone has to continue to fight and do their best.

“(On Azhar’s red card), if they were just fighting for the ball, I have no issues, but (Taku) passed the ball and then the tackle came in (from Azhar). Taku could have gotten injured. That’s how we lost Yamazaki to injury… he has to follow the rules in tackling and fighting for the ball. you cannot commit fouls that will hurt the opponent.”

Geylang Head Coach Hirotaka Usui: “Even though we had only nine players, (the) supporters still cheered us on. I’ve got to say thank you so much (to them). I’m proud of them, I’m happy to be here because even (though) we lost 4-0, supporters continued to cheer every time.

“The game today was very difficult. We had two red cards, and will have suspensions. but how can I criticise them? The players had tried their best. After the red card (to Azhar), we had no chance. I don’t (want to) criticise the referee, he’s a human, but the referee (Y Sathyakumar) has to improve. It’s not only (him), but every referee.”

Albirex: Yohsuke Nozawa (GK), Shuhei Sasahara, Shun Kumagai, Daiki Asaoka, Riku Moriyasu, Wataru Murofusi (C), Shuhei Hoshino, Adam Swandi (Ryuji Yamanaka 73′), Kenya Takahashi, Hiroyoshi Kamata, Taku Morinaga.
Unused subs: Shahul Rayyan (GK), Taiki Itsukaichi (GK), Kazuki Sumiishi, Kodai Sumikawa, Ryutaro Shibanoki.

Geylang: Basil Chan (GK), Jufri Taha (C), Darren Teh, Ryan Syaffiq (Cameron Bell 57′), Azhar Sairudin, Fuad Ramli, Yeo Hai Ngee (Ahmad Zaki 81′), Danish Irfan, Afiq Yunos, Fairoz Hasan (Sadiq Rahim 81′), Yuki Ichikawa.
Unused subs: Faris Danial (GK).