Match Review: Eagles Defence Collapse in 8-2 Loss to the White Swans
Geylang International suffered their heaviest defeat of the season as they were crushed by Albirex Niigata at the Jurong East Stadium on Friday (May 27).
With the Eagles conceding only one goal in the previous two games, few would expect a losing margin of this magnitude.
Their defence, marshalled by the sturdy Abdil Qaiyyim, was breached for the first time in 156 minutes in the 11th minute of the game. Kodai Tanaka who was in red-hot form with eight goals prior to this match, opened the account by heading in from midfielder Zamani Zamri's deep cross from the right.
Against the run of play, Geylang International then stunned their hosts into silence by grabbing the equaliser from a set piece in the 28th minute.
Vincent Bezecourt's free kick from the left was headed into the middle of the six-yard box. It fortuitously found the chest of Abdil Qaiyyim who guided the ball into the net. Abdil was thrilled to have scored his first goal for the club.
As half-time neared, it seemed the Eagles might have held the four-time league champions to a draw.
However, Geylang International found themselves trailing by two goals at the break with two-quick fire goals from Albirex Niigata. In the 40th minute, Tanaka scored his second with a header from a corner by his teammate Masaya Idetsu. Four minutes later, Zamani lashed the ball into the net from close range after a goalmouth scramble between Rio Sakuma and former Southampton player Tadanari Lee.
The Eagles, who were on an eight-game winless run, emerged from the break with the intent of rescuing at least a point. In the 49th minute, a corner by Bezecourt bobbled its way to Šime Žužul who was lurking at the far post. The top goalscorer for the visitors gladly whipped the ball into the net.
Any hopes of a comeback à la Manchester City were dashed when Albirex Niigata plundered five goals in a 21-minute spell.
The White Swans restored their two-goal lead when their left winger Masahiro Sugita tapped in after receiving a cross from his compatriot Idetsu in the 64th minute.
Six minutes later, Tokyo FC youth product Kan Kobayashi put the game beyond doubt by heading in from a pinpoint corner delivery by Idetsu.
Sensing vulnerability in the Geylang International defence, the irrepressible Tanaka seized that opportunity to achieve his second hat trick of the season soon after Kobayashi's goal.
Kobayashi was on the scoresheet again in the 80th minute after the Eagles failed to deal with the aerial threat posed by the White Swans' free-kick.
To complete Geylang International's humiliating night, debutant Ilhan Fandi found acres of space to score four minutes from time, with his father - the former Eagles legend Fandi Ahmad - beaming with pride from the stands.
Man of the Match: Ultras Eagles - Many of the loyal supporters - with families in tow - made the 20 plus kilometre trip from the eastern part of Singapore to attend the away game at Jurong East Stadium. There was an air of expectancy from the supporter group that their club would put up a strong fight against their favoured opponents. Even when it was clear that the night had turned out to be a rout for the underdogs, the Ultras Eagles continued to sing boisterously and urge their team on until the final whistle.