League Cup • July 19, 2014

Impressive Eagles Secure Semi-Final Spot


Written by: Muhammad Yazid

Geylang International made it three wins out of three in their StarHub League Cup campaign after a 3-1 win over Albirex Niigata (S) in the quarter-final game held at the Jalan Besar Stadium on Friday night.

Former Albirex player Kento Fukuda and Leonel Felice had each scored once before the deficit was reduced when former Geylang defender Norihiro Kawakami pulled one back for the White Swans. However, Hafiz Nor added another at the end to kill off Albirex.

Despite the comfortable scoreline, their opponents never made it easy for them and it was a pretty even game considering the kind of chances both sides had.

The Japanese were rewarded with the first opportunity in the 15th minute, when Keisuke Ota cleverly beat the offside trap before his finish found the wrong side of the net.

Just five minutes later, Geylang made use of a set-piece chance to draw first blood.

An outswinging corner by Mustaqim Manzur was intelligently met by Fukuda at the near post, and the defender powerfully directed his header past a hapless Kenjiro Ogino.

Undeterred by the goal, the White Swans sought for an equaliser as a series of interchangeable passes was capped off by a Kazuki Sakamoto effort which sailed way over the crossbar.

Geylang had a chance to double their lead but their efforts did not pay off as Aliff Shafaein forced Ogino to a low save.

Minutes before half-time, Sakamoto tried to catch Joey Sim off his line with a curler, but the custodian exquisitely pulled off a spectacular save to keep the lead for his side.

A huge save was witnessed at the other end, as Ogino had to be alert to keep out Hafiz’s goal-bound header after the latter ran from deep to meet a Thorsten Schneider whipped-cross.

Albirex maintained their pressure after the interval, but wasted a glorious opportunity to level matters when Kazuya Fukuzaki skied his effort over the bar from inside the penalty box, before their opponents made it 2-0 in the 54th minute.

Hafiz bulldozed his way into the penalty box and was brought down by Itsuki Yamada, before the referee pointed straight to the spot.

Felice stepped up and placed his spot-kick into the bottom right corner of the net to put his side in a comfortable position.

It was all Albirex after that goal, as the Japanese side refused to throw in the towel, with them often finding a way to the the final third.

Their efforts eventually yielded dividends, as they reduced the deficit when Kawakami headed in Sakamoto’s lobbed-cross from close range in the 70th minute mark.

Albirex were inches away from claiming an equaliser 15 minutes before the final whistle, as Nagasaki’s half-volley from a tight angle rattled the woodwork.

Just as Albirex were trying to force an equaliser, Hafiz confirmed the win for his side with a spectacular goal in injury-time.

Picking the ball up from 30-yards, the speedy winger lobbed a shot which beautifully dipped into the bottom corner of the net to stun the White Swans.

That goal was the killer-blow to Albirex’s chances, and assured Geylang a place in the semi-finals on Monday where they will face Brunei DPMM.