News • July 3, 2016
RHB Singapore Cup 2016: White Swans Dig Deep To Reach Semis
Written by: Shawn Lim
RHB Singapore Cup defending champions Albirex Niigata (S) had to come from behind to salvage a 2-2 draw against a spirited Geylang International on Friday night at Jalan Besar Stadium in the second-leg of the quarter-finals.
The White Swans had came into the game with the advantage after winning the first-leg 2-0, but a lacklustre performance in the first-half saw them allowing Geylang back into the tie after conceding two goals.
However, after a tactical switch and a change of strategy at half-time, Albirex produced a barnstorming performance in the second-half to level the game and win the tie 4-2 on aggregate to qualify for the semi-finals where they will meet Balestier Khalsa.
With the Eagles looking to start quickly, the game’s first opportunity fell for the hosts inside seven minutes when Gabriel Quak threaded Sahil Suhaimi’s low cross into the 18-yard box onto Carlos Delgado.
The Argentinian took a shot with his first touch, but White Swans custodian Yosuke Nozawa was quick off his line to parry away the fierce drive.
Geylang continued to press forward and duly reduced the deficit in the tie in the 23th minute when Delgado picked out Quak on the right flank and the winger delivered a sumptuous cross into the box for Hartmann to head home his first-ever goal for the Eagles.
Going a goal down didn’t seem to faze the White Swans and there was almost an immediate response two minutes later, but Eagles custodian Syazwan Buhari stood firm to push away Atsushi Kawata’s piledriver from outside the box.
The danger from Albirex grew with every raid into the Eagles’ half and they came close to pulling level in the 29th minute when Shuto Inaba’s cutback from the byline caused a melee in Geylang’s box before Syazwan pulled off a double save to deny Tatsuro Inui and Hiroyoshi Kamata.
Geylang’s comeback in the tie was completed on the stroke of half-time when Quak nodded on Daniel Bennett’s throw-in to Sahil, who then curled a magnificent effort into the back of the net from 30-yards out.
The Eagles failed to replicate their start to the first half after the interval though, and allowed Albirex back into the tie five minutes after the hour mark when Kawata was played through on goal and fired the ball beyond the reach of Syazwan.
There was a glorious opportunity for Geylang to level the tie again in the 67th minute when Hartmann fired a shot after spotting Nozawa off his line from 35-yards out, but the goalkeeper tracked back in time to tip the ball over the crossbar.
The White Swans took control of proceedings after that and edged further ahead in the tie in the 77th minute after Kawata was hauled to the ground by Yuki Ichikawa in the 18-yard box, before picking himself up to score from the spot.
Hartmann came close again three minutes from time when substitute Shawal Anuar’s delivery to the far post found the striker, but the Filipino saw his header crashed off the crossbar as Albirex hung on to win the tie.
Geylang International coach Hasrin Jailani: “I am disappointed with the result but not the performance. We needed to score the two goals and we did, but the second-half was not easy.
“We did well in the second-half until the first goal came in. In the end, the result in the first-leg killed us, but the players give their 100 percent tonight.
Albirex Niigata (S) coach Naoki Nauro: “We didn’t know if we should play offensively or defensively before the game because we held the advantage.
“But in the first-half, we didn’t play well and allowed them to score twice, so it was a nerve-wrecking moment for us.
“We decided to go offensive after half-time and we changed the formation, which allowed us to get back into the game.”
Geylang International: Syazwan Buhari (GK), Yuki Ichikawa, Shariff Samat (Faritz Hameed 72′), Daniel Bennett, Al-Qaasimy Rahman (Stanely Ng 82′), Safirul Sulaiman, Nor Azli Yusoff (C) (Shawal Anuar 82′), Carlos Delgado, Gabriel Quak, Sahil Suhaimi, Mark Hartmann
Albirex Niigata (S): Yosuke Nozawa (GK), Kento Fujihara, Atsushi Shirota, Naofumi Tanaka, Tomoki Menda, Shuto Inaba (C), Masaya Jitozono (Rui Kumada 77′), Kento Nagasaki, Tatsuro Inui (Mikiya Yamada 46′), Hiroyoshi Kamata (Daichi Ishiyama 88′), Atsushi Kawata