News • March 11, 2016

Eagles and White Swans Play Out Entertaining Draw


Written by: Shawn Lim

Geylang International missed out on another opportunity to go top of the Great Eastern Yeo’s S.League 2016 table after being held to 0-0 draw by league leaders Albirex Niigata (S) at Bedok Stadium on Thursday night.

The clash between both sides proved to be an entertaining match even though there no goals, as there were a plethora of chances from both sides which either hit the woodwork or were impressively saved by the goalkeepers from both teams.

However, a point shared by both sides seemed fair at the end of the day, with Geylang dominating the first-half and Albirex creating more chances in the second period of the game, which also saw Eagles coach Hasrin Jailani sent off a few minutes before the final whistle.

The hosts pressed the visitors high up the pitch from the off and could have been rewarded with a goal after just a minute into the game when Sahil Suhaimi dazzled his way into the box and fired an effort at goal, which was brilliantly tipped away by Albirex custodian Yosuke Nozawa.

The Japanese goalkeeper then recovered in time to produce another top class save and push away Isa Halim’s fierce rebound from close-range.

The visitors were let off the hook again a minute later when the resulting corner from Carlos Delgado found Branko Cubrilo, but the Croatian saw his header hit the side-netting.

Shariff Samad then pounced on a loose ball from a corner in the 12th minute and lobbed the ball across the 18-yard box for Isa. The Eagles captain tried a first-time volley from outside the box, but saw his shot tipped over the crossbar by Nozawa.

The Eagles’ high-pressing game continued to pin the Japanese side in their own half for as the first 15 minutes of the game went by and didn’t allow their opponents a sniff at the ball.

The White Swans however, almost broke the deadlock against the run of play in the 19th minute when Masaya Jitozono spotted Geylang custodian Syazwan Buhari off his line and tried his luck with a dipping effort from 30 yards out.

To the Eagles’ relief, Syazwan managed to race back in time and made a flying save to catch the ball.

The woodwork came to the White Swans rescue six minutes later when Delgado let fly a fierce drive from outside of the box, but saw his shot smacked against the top of the crossbar.

Tatsuro Inui had an opportunity to open the scoring for Albirex in the 29th minute, but dragged his shot wide from outside the box after some good work by Naofumi Tanaka down on the left flank to set him up.

A minute later, the Eagles rued another glorious opportunity to draw first blood when Nozawa pulled off a top-drawer save to tip away Delgado’s peach of a strike from outside the box that looked destined for the top corner.

Albirex could have gone into the break with the lead when Atsushi Kawata helped on Kento Nagasaki’s header from Shuto Inaba’s cross towards goal. However, Syazwan was alerted to the danger and punched the ball away.

The White Swans emerged from the interval re-focused and dangerous as they looked to stamp their authority on the game and almost scored twice through Kawata in a space of two minutes.

First, the 24-year-old curled an effort from outside the box that flew just over the bar in the 58th minute, before stealing the ball off Nor Azli Yusoff on the halfway line a minute later and went through on goal.

However, Kawata could only fire his effort over the bar after the retreating Isa got back into time to put enough pressure on the Japanese.

The impressive Nozawa was then required to thwart Stanely Ng’s stab at goal two minutes after the hour mark, before an unmarked Kawata sent a poor header from Inui’s free-kick high and wide in the 69th minute.

Inui was next to find the woodwork in his way, when the 30-year-old headed Jitozono’s free-kick into the bottom corner of the post a minute later.

Nozawa’s agility was put to the test again in the 79th minute, when he made a flying dive to his right and tipped away Faritz Hameed’s shot at close-range.

The tempo of the game picked a notch or two in stoppage time as Kawata’s volley at goal was parried away by Syazwan, before Geylang had two shouts for a penalty waved off after Sahil and substitute Gabriel Quak went down in the 18-yard box.

Hasrin was then sent off by referee Sukhbir Singh after making his unhappiness known to the fourth official as the final whistle arrived minutes later.

Geylang International assistant coach Mohd Noor Ali: “I was surprised that there were no goals tonight because we had plenty of chances to finish off the game.

“We need to work on our finishing because we have had four draws so far. It is a big concern for us, but we have two weeks of international break to work on it because if you don’t score, you don’t win.”

Albirex Niigata (S) coach Naoki Nauro: “We could have conceded a couple of goals today, so a point is a good result for us, but we need to improve if we want to win three points.

“We like to build up from the back, but Geylang prevented from doing that in the first-half, so we need to learn how to cope with situations like these.”

Geylang International: Syazwan Buhari (GK), Shariff Samat, Daniel Bennett, Faritz Hameed, Yuki Ichikawa, Isa Halim (C), Carlos Delgado (Shawal Anuar 83’), Stanely Ng (Gabriel Quak 68’), Nor Azli Yusoff (Safirul Sulaiman 73’), Sahil Suhaimi, Branko Cubrillo

Albirex Niigata (S): Yosuke Nozawa (GK), MIkiya Yamada, Atsushi Shirota (C), Tomoki Menda, Shuto Inaba (Rui Kumada 88’), Masaya Jitozono, Kento Nagasaki, Tatsuro Inui (Hiroyoshi Kamata 76’), Daichi Ishiyama, Kazuki Mine. Atsushi Kawata