Eagles Floored By Cheetahs In Season Opener
By Kevin Prasad on 28 February 2017
Geylang International kicked off their S.League season in the wrong foot, as they fell to an unfortunate 2-0 defeat to Hougang United, at Hougang Stadium, on Monday evening.
The score was truly not reflective of the overall play and result, as Geylang dominated most of the proceedings. However, it was the Cheetahs whom swiftly converted two of their few chances, when it mattered most.
Fumiya Kogure and substitute, Iqbal Hussain struck on either side of half-time for Hougang, as the Cheetahs secured three points and a dream start to their campaign.
Geylang suffered a major loss, when Argentine midfielder, Ricardo Sendra was side-lined due to a back injury and compounding to their misery, Stanely Ng was suspended for this fixture alongside both young starlets Umar Akhbar and Fahrish Khan, out of action due to foot injuries.
Despite a depleted side, Geylang were brimming with confidence right from the kick-off and were dictating play in the opening stages.
Within the space of the first 15 minutes, Shahfiq Ghani had three splendid chances to draw first blood for the Eagles. First was a 25-yard free-kick, which glazed over the bar. Second attempt was also a free-kick, but this time from an acute angle and the curling attempt forced Khairulhin into a sprawling save. Last but not least, an audacious lob from 60 yards after spotting the goalkeeper off his line. However, it glanced narrowly wide.
The Eagles made full use of their attacking prowess in the build up to their attacks with new target-man, Victor Coto and Amy Recha spearheading the front-line and making endless runs behind the Cheetahs’ back-line.
However, against the run of play, Hougang opened the scoring in the 24th minute, through Kogure. The Japanese midfielder took down M.Anumanthan’s long punt and turned his marker, before rifling a low shot into the bottom corner, past the diving Syazwan Buhari.
The Cheetahs, could have doubled the lead just before half time, but captain Azhar Sairudin blazed a half-volley well over, despite being unmarked at the edge of the box.
After the interval, Geylang renewed with a sense of confidence, switched to an offensive formation, as the Bedok-based club searched for the equalizer.
Shortly after the restart, Shawal Anuar almost netted the equalizer in the54th minute. The winger brilliantly rounded Hougang’s custodian with his first touch after taking down Shahfiq’s visionary long pass. Unfortunately, Shawal’s resulting shot into an open net was breathtakingly hacked off the line by makeshift centre-back, Zulfahmi Arifin.
With 20 minutes on the clock, Geylang then altered their formation and adopted a high pressing tactic by deploying Anders Aplin upfront to pair up with Victor Coto. The Eagles threw bodies forward without hesitation, and almost got their rewards in the 86th minute.
Victor Coto brilliantly spun past two defenders in the box and unleashed a rocket at goal, but his toe-poke, was stupendously parried away by Khairulhin’s reflexes. A routine clearance from the rebound, instantly set-up a counter-attack from Hougang.
Hougang’s Pablo Rodriguez latched onto the loose ball and teed Iqbal on goal with an outer-foot pass. The latter, then sprinted into the box and duly slotted his effort into the bottom corner past a hapless Syazwan, to seal the game and three points, for Hougang.
Speaking after the game, Geylang International’s Head Coach Hasrin Jailani, was relatively delighted with the team’s performance, but upset with the defeat. “It was a tough game for us; honestly they (Hougang) did not have much chances, but they finished off those that was given to them. Defensively we did well, it’s just the attacking part which we need to improve more and take more chances. Towards the last 15 minutes, I put three at the back (to chase the game) and could have equalized right before they scored the second. That’s football,” said Hasrin.
The 41-year-old tactician also added, “Right now, the whole team must stay positive and we must bounce back at Bedok. Losing the first game is always hard, but it is not the last. We will be going back to training and be more clinical with our chances.”
Geylang International FC will now look forward to their next game against Balestier Khalsa FC, in front of their own fans at the Eagles’ Nest aka Bedok Stadium on 04th March 2017!
Full Time: Hougang United FC (Fumiya Kogure 24’, Iqbal Hussain 86’) 2 – 0 Geylang International FC
EAGLES’ Editor Man Of The Match: Victor Coto
Geylang International FC: Syazwan Buhari (GK), Faritz Hameed (C), Anders Aplin, Yuki Ichikawa, Al-Qaasimy Rahman, Shawal Anuar, Shahfiq Ghani, Safirul Sulaiman, Gabriel Quak (Nor Azli Yusoff 70’), Victor Coto, Amy Recha (Hairey Jamal 79’)
(*Photos Courtesy of S.League)