Eagles End Season With A Bang But Fall Short On AFC Cup Slot
By Kevin Prasad on 26 October 2016
A heavy downpour might have delayed the kick-off slightly, but once the action got underway at Bedok Stadium, the fans were treated to a goals galore, as Geylang International clinched an impressive 4-1 victory over Home United.
Despite the emphatic triumph, it was still two goals short of their intended target, as the Eagles needed a five-goal margin to finish as the second-highest local team and qualify for next season’s AFC Cup, in which the Protectors, ultimately achieved.
Mark Hartmann drew first blood in the first-half but it was eventually cancelled out by Ken Ilso’s second-half equalizer. With the scores levelled, the Eagles rallied on and thumped three more goals before the final whistle, with strikes from Shahfiq Ghani, Gabriel Quak and Daniel Bennett.
Geylang’s Head Coach, Hasrin Jailani deployed an offensive 3-1-3-3 formation in a bid to get the goals, as well as break the curse of netting a maximum of three goals per match, throughout the season.
The unorthodox formation, certainly paid dividends, as the Eagles got off to the best possible start as Hartmann broke the deadlock with a moment of brilliance in the 6th minute. The Philippines forward spotted Home’s custodian Eko Pradana off his line, and executed an outstanding lob from the half-way line (40 yards), to give Geylang the lead.
The Eagles continued to press high up the pitch and dominated possession in a bid to extend their lead. At the half-hour mark, Shawal Anuar almost doubled the lead with a bullet from the edge of the box, but it crashed off the post instead.
Home huffed and puffed in their attacking third, but was constantly denied by the quick-reflexes of Syazwan Buhari, whom ensured that Geylang’s 1-0 lead was intact till the half-time whistle loomed.
After the break, the Eagles went all guns blazing and nearly increased their lead in the 49th minute, but Hartmann’s swerving free-kick slammed against the right-hand post.
Geylang were made to pay almost immediately, as Home went on the counter and Ilso made no mistake from close range to net the equalizer with a deft finish under Syazwan.
Despite Home restoring parity and over 40 minutes to play, Geylang were still determined to bag three points and then proceeded to switch on their afterburners.
The Bedok-based club should have retaken the lead on 62 minutes when Sahil Suhaimi squared across the goalmouth for Shawal, but the latter somehow scoffed his shot over from two yards out.
Nevertheless, Geylang’s hard work paid off in the 69th minute, as substitute Shahfiq latched on a poor clearance and unleashed a thunderous strike from distance, to reinstate the Eagles’ lead and also net his first goal of the season. The 2-1 lead certainly spurred on Hasrin’s charges to launch an all-out attack contingency plan.
However, the woodwork denied Geylang for the third time on the night in the 82nd minute, when Sahil’s bazooka from distance, crashed off the outside of the post.
Nonetheless, the ‘men in green and white’ kept pushing numbers forward and eventually, made it 3-1 two minutes later, with substitute Gabriel displaying neat footwork to round Eko, before thumping it into the back of the net.
Geylang capped off their amazing performance with another goal, deep into injury time, with Daniel Bennett getting onto the scoresheet after steering header from Shahfiq’s pin-point cross.
However, it proved to be too little too late as time soon expired and Home sealed the second AFC Cup qualifying spot at their expense, whilst the Eagles finished the season in 5th place.
Speaking after the game, Hasrin Jailani, was proud of his charges, “We came in with the mentality of getting five goals and we had enough chances to score more than that, but maybe today’s not our day, but hats off to the boys.”
The former Singapore international also added, “Our team just picked up too late in the season. If we can hit form in the beginning of the season, we could have finished higher. Whatever the result, we got to look forward to next season as this year proved to be a stepping stone for all of us.”
Full Time : Geylang International FC (Mark Hartmann 6’, Shahfiq Ghani 69’, Gabriel Quak 85’, Daniel Bennett 90’) 4 – 1 (Ken Ilso 50’) Home United FC
EAGLES’ Editor Man Of The Match: Syazwan Buhari
Geylang International FC: Syazwan Buhari (GK), Anders Aplin, Yuki Ichikawa, Isa Halim (C), Shariff Samat (Shahfiq Ghani 56’), Daniel Bennett, Stanely Ng (Gabriel Quak 39’), Mark Hartmann, Amy Recha, Shawal Anuar (Carlos Delgado 68’), Sahil Suhaimi
*Photos Courtesy of S.League