Brave Eagles defeated in Penalty Shoot-out
By Deepanraj Ganesan on 3 July 2014
Going into the second leg having to chase down a one goal deficit, it would have required a mammoth performance from the Eagles to progress from the RHB Singapore Cup quarter-final. Like lions they battled and secured a 1-0 win in full time. With the score tied at 2-2 on aggregate, the match went on to 30 minutes of extra time before the tie was cruelly decided on spot kicks.
Balestier Khalsa emerged victorious 4-3 in the shootout, but with their sheer determination and guile on the pitch, it was Geylang International who had won the hearts of the watching faithful, at the Jalan Besar Stadium.
The Eagles stepped onto the luscious turf of Jalan Besar with a new look formation, with head coach Jorg Steinebrunner opting for a 4-3-3 line-up. And the change in tactics provided the Eagles with the foundation to find the elusive goal they needed straight from the get-go.
The home side piled the pressure on the Tigers and it was Geylang who came close first. Neat play between Franco Chivilo and Mustaqim Manzur resulted in the Argentinian teeing the latter up for a shot. Mustaqim’s shot rocked the crossbar. The message was sent to the Tigers, that the Eagles had come for a mission and would not be lying low till they accomplished it.
Geylang pushed hard in the first half for the goal they needed but found the Tigers clearing their lines all too often. The sides went into the break with the Eagles knowing they had to try harder in the second half if they were to net.
When the sides returned for the second half, it was to be the beginning of a treat for the Geylang fans as the side produced 45 minutes of breath-taking action.
They had to deal with early pressure from the Tigers but Siddiq Durimi was on hand to deny Kim Min Ho from scoring with a great save to keep out his 30 yard shot. And with their first real attack on the Tigers’ goal, the Eagles drew first blood.
Mustaqim Manzur’s wonderful cross was knocked back towards goal and Joaquin Lopez headed in to make it 1-0 to the Eagles and 2-2 on aggregate in the 59th minute.
Joaquin Lopez netted with a header in what proved to be the only goal in 120 minutes of play
Straight after the goal, the Tigers pushed forward and Goran Ljubojevic had a chance to find an immediate equaliser but Siddiq Durimi produced a stupendous save to turn the ball round the post.Shah Hirul then came on for the Eagles and the midfielder along with Franco Chivilo were magnificent, switching balls and winning possession drawing cheers from the crowd.The Eagles threw everything at the Tigers. There were even three good chances in the space of a minute for the Eagles and it ended with Franco Chivilo’s volley from just outside the box which going just wide.
And as the match seeped into injury time, there was to be late drama. Yuki Ichikawa got his head to the ball from a corner but his header was just about cleared off the line. The Eagles bench certainly felt it had gone in but the referee waved play on.
Onto extra time it went and it was more of the same from the Eagles, as scintillating play was a common theme.
Leonel Felice’s shot in extra time was saved well by the Balestier custodian. The Eagles were evidently playing with a spring in their steps.
Hafiz Nor in particular brought out his party tricks and unleashed a shot that shook the crossbar and perhaps the hearts of the Balestier players. Extra time could not separate the sides and it had to be decided by a penalty shoot-out.
Leonel Felice stepped up first to net his shot and then it was Joey Sim’s turn to perform heroics. Incidentally, Joey Sim came on in the final minute of extra time for Siddiq Durimi specially to take part in the penalty shootout. And the change paid off with Joey leaping to save Balestier’s spot kick.
Mustaqim Manzur and Fabian Kwok went on to score their penalties as well before Muhammad Ridhuan and Kento Fukuda missed their spot kicks and it allowed Balestier Khalsa to emerge victorious 4-3 on spot kicks.
A dejected head coach after the match was Eagles’ Jorg Steinebrunner. Nevertheless the German expressed his pride as he spoke to EAGLES TV. He said: “We were the better footballing team and the character from the team has been outstanding. You have to give credit to the boys for that.”
He added that the performance on the night would give the side great impetus going forward. He said: “It gives us a lot of confidence. From the first to the last minute there was consistency so we have to look ahead to our games with our heads up.”
Fabian Kwok put himself about in midfield and was magnificent yet again
Fabian Kwok who turned in yet another tidy performance in the middle of the park felt his side can take the positives despite bowing out of the tournament. He said: “It’s sad for everyone but we have no regrets. What I felt is that we played really good football today and if we keep this up, we will have no problems against the other teams even Tampines Rovers and Warriors FC.”