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Match Review: Eagles Vanquished in Battle of the Birds

Photo credit: Football Association of Singapore

Any lingering hopes of Geylang International upsetting runaway leaders Albirex Niigata in the run up to the Battle of the Birds were dashed as the underdogs fell to a crushing 6-1 home defeat on Thursday night (August 2).

On the back of a three-game unbeaten run, including a stunning win over title-chasing Tampines Rovers, fans were optimistic that their heroes in green would give the table-toppers a tough fight and come away with at least a point.

While the Eagles had given a good account of themselves for a large part of the first half with back-to-the-wall defending coupled with a few attacking forays upfront, it was only a matter of time for the home defence to crack given the huge gulf in quality between the two sides.

In fact, a defensive error from Fadli Kamis in the 40th minute was all it took to undo their hard work when his stray pass went to Shuto Komaki who then fed the ball to Seia Kunori to score the opener.

Throwing on forward Naufal Azman in place of a disappointed Fadli at half-time, head coach Noor Ali was hoping to go for the jugular against the imperious White Swans.

Unsurprisingly, with more men committed upfront leaving pockets of space at the back, Albirex ran riot and raced to a five-goal lead in a 30-minute spell of the second half, which saw Kunori completing his hattrick and Shuto Komaki and Riku Fukashiro adding themselves to the scoresheet.

As the wipeout was unfolding on the pitch, the Ultras Eagles, joined by a bunch of enthusiastic First Kick Academy kids, continued to keep their spirits high on the terraces by drumming away and serenading cheers to spur on the Eagles.

In return for their unwavering support, Geylang gave their endearing supporters something to cheer about in the closing stages of the game when Yushi Yamaya used his head to divert a cross by Muhammad Arshad into the net.

But the irrepressible Kunori, who is gunning for the Golden Boot, was to have the last say in the contest as he scored his fourth goal in injury time to complete the rout.

Man of the match: Ultras Eagles - When the chips were down with hopes of a positive result slipping away by the minute, the diehard fans had never let up on their drumming and cheers as they urged their heroes to play on with their heads held high till the final whistle.

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