Eagles Outwit Cheetahs To Keep AFC Cup Ambitions Alive
By Kevin Prasad on 21 October 2016
Geylang International extended their winning streak to two games, as the Eagles recorded a narrow 1-0 victory over Hougang United at the Hougang Stadium on Thursday evening.
Hotshot forward, Sahil Suhaimi scored the only goal of the game and his fifth of the season with a first-half strike, to allow his side to overtake the Cheetahs, to fifth place and give the Eagles, a fighting chance against Home United in a bid to reach the 2017 Asian Football Confederation (AFC) Cup.
Chances were far and few in between in the match, as both sides struggled to get in their rhythm. It took almost 18 minutes for the game to see its first chance, which came from the visitors.
Shahfiq Ghani released a thumping free-kick to the bottom corner, but Khairulhin Khalid was on par with the effort, with a terrific save. Soon later, Amy Recha turned his marker and had a bite at goal, when he fired a 30-yard shot, which fizzled narrowly wide of the post.
Shawal Anuar had a superb opportunity to open the scoring in the 35th minute after Daniel Bennett found him unmarked inside the box with a long pass. However, the fleet-footed winger’ attempt was brilliantly smothered away by Khairulhin.
Five minutes later, Hougang almost broke the deadlock, when Fumiya Kogure picked out Kaplan with a pin-point cross, but the Hougang captain, could only scuffed his shot over from six yards out.
Nevertheless against the run of play, Geylang drew first blood in the 43rd minute with Sahil’s moment of brilliance. The national striker dazzled his way past two defenders and fired a bullet inside Khairulhin’s near post from an acute angle, to give the Eagles a deserved lead, before the break.
Hougang came out raring in the second-half and nearly got their equalizer within three minutes of the restart, through Iqbal Hussein and Stipe Plazibat. However, both attempts from distance, was brilliantly denied by Geylang custodian Syazwan Buhari
The Eagles added more gloss to their firepower, by introducing Mark Hartmann for Sahil Suhaimi, towards the hour-mark. Then again, the colossal striker, failed to hit the back of the net, despite being awarded a hat-trick of opportunities. Amy Recha teed up Hartmann inside the box on two occasions, but Khairulhin’s quick reflexes denied more goals.
With much determination and effort, the Cheetahs threw bodies forward in search of the elusive equalizer. However, the steadfast Geylang’s back-line was well marshalled Shariff Samat, whom repelled all long punts with tenacious headers.
Deep into injury time, Geylang survived a mighty scare as Daniel almost turned Fumiya Kogure’s intelligent low drive into his own net, but fortunately, the ball sailed over the bar.
The Eagles eventually held on for the vital three points and are three points and eight goals, behind Home in the chase for the second AFC Cup qualifying spot.
Speaking after the game, Geylang International’s Hasrin, was contented with the victory and the team’s overall performance. “If we allowed Hougang to play, they will dictate right from the start. So we pressed them from the start and tried to play in the middle, which we did quite well. In the end, the three points was the most important thing.” said Hasrin.
The 40-year-old also added, “We need to win by five goals against Home (United) next week (to make the AFC Cup), but I can tell you we’re not giving up. There’s always hope and anything can happen. Hopefully the fans turn up at Bedok Stadium next Tuesday and I can promise it will be an exciting game.”
Geylang International FC will now face Home United FC in their final fixture of 2016, at the Eagles’ Nest aka Bedok Stadium on 25 October 2016!
SIMPLE EQUATION = A 5-Goal Margin Victory is Needed To Make The AFC Cup Wish Turn Into Reality. A Miracle Is Needed, But Will It Be Possible.
Just to spice things up a bit, Geylang defeated Warriors FC 6-0 in their last fixture of the 2015 S.League edition, at Bedok Stadium. Hence, Mission Impossible, could be Mission Possible!
Full Time: Hougang United FC 0 – 1 Geylang International FC (Sahil Suhaimi 43’)
EAGLES’ Editor Man Of The Match: Daniel Bennett
Geylang International FC: Syazwan Buhari (GK), Yuki Ichikawa, Isa Halim (C), Shariff Samat, Daniel Bennett, Faritz Hameed, Shahfiq Ghani (Mark Hartmann 61’), Amy Recha (Anders Aplin 88’), Nor Azli Yusoff, Shawal Anuar, Sahil Suhaimi (Stanely Ng 72’)
*Photos Courtesy of S.League