Geylang win in vain as Albirex seal SF tie with Tampines

Geylang International shocked Albirex Niigata (S) 1-0 at the Bedok Stadium on Friday night, but the result was not enough for them to progress into the League Cup semi-finals.

A stunning long-range lob from Shawal Anuar settled the tight affair and enabled the Eagles to finish their Group B campaign with four points – level with Home United.

However, the heavy 5-0 defeat to Home United four days ago eventually cost them as they were edged out for a semi-final spot by virtue of goal difference (-4 as compared to Home’s +3).

Missing up to 10 first-team players, it looked like the Eagles were up against it in this game but they did not follow the script.

They could have gone ahead as early as in the fourth minute when Mark Hartmann released Shawal through on goal, but the latter was unable to outwit Albirex goalkeeper Eita Kasagawa in an one-on-one opportunity.

Albirex gradually settled into the game and almost scored six minutes later, with Tatsuro Inui’s curling 30-yard free-kick being palmed to safety by Geylang shot-stopper Hairul Syirhan.

Tadaaki Yazawa then hit the crossbar with an over-hit cross, but the more promising moves was carved out by Geylang.

Eventually the Eagles found the breakthrough on 32 minutes, with Shawal capitalising on a poor Kasagawa clearance to lob home from 35 yards out and send the home fans wild.Albirex – who chose to rest first teamers like Atsushi Kawata and Kento Nagasaki – responded well in the second half, but the Geylang backline led by Shariff Samat were resolute as they repelled everything that came their way.

It looked like the White Swans would sneak in the equaliser in the 70th minute via a goalmouth melee, but Geylang skipper Isa Halim was on hand to clear off the line.

Inui then broke free at the edge of the box, but was only able to crack his blistering effort wide of the left-hand post.

Geylang survived the storm and eventually emerged with the three points, but had to settle for third place and a Plate semi-final meeting with Warriors FC. Nonetheless coach Hasrin Jailani only had good things to say about his side.

“Coming back from a 5-0 loss to Home wasn’t an easy thing,” he reflected. “The players showed a lot of character to recover. They played according to how I want them to play.

“They made sure they were collective as a defensive unit and they really worked their socks off. Now we’re in the Plate competition and we’ll try to win it, just like how we try to win every game. Of course as a club, we want to win something this year.”

On the other hand, Albirex tactician Naoki Naruo refused to dwell on the defeat as they prepare themselves for a tantalising clash with Tampines Rovers in the Cup semi-finals.

“I thought we could showed more of our football tonight, but perhaps due to the weather and pitch condition, we did not perform well,” he commented.

“For the semi-final, we’ll be playing at our home ground at Jurong West. We lost the last time we faced Tampines, so this is a good time for us to avenge that defeat. The team’s condition is very good now and we’ll show our best in that game.”Geylang International shocked Albirex Niigata (S) 1-0 at the Bedok Stadium on Friday night, but the result was not enough for them to progress into the League Cup semi-finals.