News • June 29, 2016
RHB Singapore Cup 2016: White Swans Off To A Perfect Start
Written by: Shawn Lim
Albirex Niigata (S) began their defence of the RHB Singapore Cup with a 2-0 victory over Geylang International at Jurong East Stadium on Tuesday night in the first-leg of the quarter-finals.
The hosts got off to a dream start when they broke the deadlock straight from kick-off after Daichi Ishiyama sent Masaya Jitozono through on goal and the latter shrugged off Daniel Bennett before firing the ball into the bottom corner.
The Eagles slowly settled into the game after the early setback and could have pulled level eight minutes later when Shawal Anuar stole the ball off Kento Fujihara at the byline before cutting back the ball for Carlos Delgado in the 18-yard box.
The Argentinean skipped past the challenge of a White Swans defender, but blasted the ball high and over the crossbar.
An uncharacteristic mistake from Yosuke Nozawa almost gifted Geylang a chance to get back into the game in the 25th minute, when the White Swans custodian threw out a ball to a Geylang player, but recovered in time to parry away Delgado’s fierce close-range effort.
Amy Recha had an opportunity to equalise for the Eagles in the 38th minute, but slipped as he shaped to shoot after receiving a pass from Delgado on the edge of the area, drawing a comfortable save from Nozawa instead.
The White Swans replicated their start to the first-half after the interval and duly doubled their lead in the 53rd minute when Naofumi Tanaka climbed the highest to meet Kento Nagasaki’s corner at the far post and sent a bullet header into the back of the net.
A miscommunication between Yuki Ichikawa and Shariff Samat four minutes after the hour mark nearly resulted in a calamitous situation as their mistake allowed Hiroyoshi Kamata to run free into the box, but Syazwan came rushing off his line to clear the ball
New signing Mark Hartmann had a presentable opportunity to help Geylang to reduce the deficit in the 69th minute when Sahil Suhaimi brought down Al-Qaasimy Rahman’s cross at the far post for him, but the Filipino blasted the ball wide of the mark.
Atsushi Kawata then caused the Eagles all sorts of problems after coming on earlier in the 67th minute as he was forced to shoot wide by Shariff after being played through on goal in the 72nd minute, before skipping past Syazwan’s sliding challenge to go through on goal minutes later.
However, the goalkeeper recovered in time to challenge Kawata and dive at the Japanese’s feet to save the ball to keep the scoreline down and keep Eagles’ hopes alive before the second-leg.
Albirex Niigata (S) coach Naoki Nauro: “We were lucky that we managed to score such an early goal, so we didn’t have to push as hard as we wanted to.
“The initial game plan was to retain possession as long as possible, but after the goal, Geylang came at us, so we had to start playing more attacking football.”
Geylang International Hasrin Jailani: “The early goal changed everything for us, but I was happy to see the players giving 100 percent after that.
“We can do much better when defending at set-pieces because the second goal was very soft. But we still have a chance on Friday as long as we prevent them from scoring too early.”
Albirex Niigata (S): Yosuke Nozawa (GK), Mikiya Yamada, Kento Fujihara, Atsushi Shirota, Naofumi Tanaka, Shuto Inaba (C), Masaya Jitozono, Kento Nagasaki, Daichi Ishiyama, Hiroyoshi Kamata, Kazuki Mine
Geylang International: Syazwan Buhari (GK), Yuki Ichikawa, Shariff Samat, Daniel Bennett, Faritz Hameed, Al-Qaasimy Rahman, Safirul Sulaiman, Nor Azli Yusoff (C), Carlos Delgado, Shawal Anuar, Amy Recha