The 2020 Singapore Premier League kickstarted today, 29 February, in a rare leap year opener.
The White Swans took on the Geylang Eagles in a hot day at Jurong East Stadium. The Home Stand was already packed with supporters eager to watch the new look White Swans before kickoff. The home gate was closed 15 minutes into kickoff to prevent overcrowding as supporters were still streaming in, and they were directed to alternative gates.
The fervent home crowd probably made the White Swans nervous as many of the players are making their debut in the Singapore Premier League. Although Albirex dominated possession in the first half, there were many misplaced passes and the Geylang goalkeeper, Zainol Gulam, was not tested.
However, at the 40th minute, striker Tomoyuki Doi wriggled past his marker’s attention and delivered a fierce shot on target. Zainol could only parry the shot towards left winger Reo Nishiguchi. Nishiguchi shot the rebound into the top right hand corner to give the White Swans a deserved 1 nil lead into half time.
In the early minutes of the 2nd half, a tangle between substitute Ryoya Taniguchi and Geylang Striker Fareez Farhan, saw the latter head butting Taniguchi. The referee showed no hesitation in brandishing the red card as he was merely a few feet away and saw the incident clearly.
Taking advantage of the Eagle’s ten men, the White Swans poured forward. In the 52nd minute, Nishiguchi broke down the left wing and sent a low cross into the penalty box. Right winger Ryosuke Nagasawa arrived in time to sweep the ball into the net. 2 nil.
At the 60th minute, Taniguchi penetrated the right wing and sent in a delicious cross for Doi. However, Geylang Defender Shahrin Shaberin punched the ball away before it reached Doi. After a brief consultation with his assistant referee, the referee sent Shaberin off for denying a clear goalscoring opportunity with his hand, and awarded a penalty to the White Swans. Doi made no mistake from the spot to make it 3 nil.
The game is effectively over with Geylang 3 goals and 2 men down. However, the White Swans showed no mercy and continued to move forward. If not for some erratic shooting, the scoreline could become a cricket score. The 4th goal did arrive in the 77th minute when Taniguchi took advantage of a loose ball in the penalty area and slammed it home. Taniguchi has carried his goalscoring form from pre-season warm up game into the proper season.
There were no further goals and the White Swans avenged last season opening defeat against the same opponent.
The White Swans will travel to Bishan Stadium next week, 7 March, to take on Balestier Khalsa Tigers.
Comment from Players and Head coach
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