Geylang International FC

Eagles Pull Off Great Escape Against Lao Police

11134120_1079880055359822_2505949620472808928_oGeylang International FC successfully progressed to the RHB Singapore Cup 2015 quarter-finals, after a stunning 2-1 comeback victory over Lao Police FC at the Bedok Stadium on 26th May 2015.

Against all odds, Lao Police gave the Eagles a run for their money throughout the first-half and Khouanta Sivongthong gave the visitors, a well-deserved lead just before the break.

However, Geylang turned the tide in the second-half as Hafiz Nor scored the equalizer, whilst Jozef Kaplan converted a penalty-kick, to overturn the score and register the win.

Lao Police deployed a high intensity and hard-pressing game-plan, in the opening minutes of the game. The energetic visitors showed their intentions for a win, as early as the fifth minute, when Khouanta Sivongthong launched a magnificent cross into the box towards Soukchinda Natphasouk, but unfortunately, the latter’s effort was off the mark by a yard.

Lao Police, then frustrated Geylang with their defensive antics, as the nippy Laos internationals continued to close down the Eagles with their tight marking strategy. Geylang found it difficult to find space beyond the Lao Police’s defence and resorted to attempt shots from distance.

In the space of five minutes, Tatsuro Inui, Shah Hirul, Jozef Kaplan and Syed Thaha wasted a clear-cut long range effort each as their rockets misfired appallingly wide.

Towards the half-an-hour mark, both teams still struggled to find any rhythm or shots at goal. However, Lao Police opened on the scoring in the 26th minute with a lightning-quick break.

Eagles’ corner-kick delivery was headed away and Lao Police immediately poured forward with Phoutthasay Khochalern spearheading the counter-attack. He then releases Sivongthong at the edge of the box and the latter made no mistake from the edge of the box with a stinging shot past, Eagles’ custodian Yazid Yazin.

Unfortunately, there were not many chances to speak of thereafter, as Geylang stuck to the obvious game-plan of going forward cautiously, while keeping things tight at the back. Despite all efforts, the hosts entered the half-time break trailing 1-0 to Lao Police.

After the restart, Geylang commenced the game with renewed sense of confidence and the Eagles started to dominate ball possession. Chances continued to be a premium in the second half,  but both sides squandered a glorious chance each, just before the hour’s mark.

Geylang’s goalkeeper, Yazid saved the blushes of the Eagles as he executed an outstanding diving save to keep out Sivonthong’s amazing free-kick attempt from the edge of the box. A minute later, Anaz Hadee found Kaplan with a delightful cross from the right flank, but the Geylang captain’s volley attempt blazed over the bar.

After continuous bombardment of the Lao Police’s goal, the defensive wall was eventually broken down by an unlikely hero. He was none other than, Hafiz Nor, whom has yet to register a goal to his name, finally got on the score-sheet as he scored the equalizer for Geylang in the 69th minute.

Hafiz equalized with a simple tap in from close range after pouncing on the rebound, which initiated from Castanheira’s shot being saved by Lao Police’s goalkeeper, Vathana Keodouangdeth.

The laudable equalizer spurred the Eagles to go on for the win and Coach Jorg, made an offensive-minded substitution by replacing Tatsuro Inui with the young starlet, Shawal Anuar.

Shawal has been regularly coming off the Eagles’ bench and has consistently contributed in attack, be it shots, crosses, assists or goals. This time round, the 23-year-old forward earned his side a penalty-kick after being illegally brought down in the 85th minute by Sonevilay Sihavong, whom was unable to match his burst of speed inside the box.

Despite the mounting pressure, Eagles’ skipper, Kaplan calmly converted the spot-kick with a confident finish into bottom right corner, to lead the game 2-1.

Lao Police had their last attempt at goal in the 88th minute and it was an audacious free-kick effort by Sivongthong. Nevertheless, Yazid Yazin came to the Eagles’ rescue once again as he displayed his goalkeeping heroics with a terrific full-stretched save, to deny the visitors the equalizer and present Geylang the ticket to the quarter-finals.

Geylang’s Head Coach Jorg Steinebrunner, was satisfied with the win and shared, “Lao Police are no pushovers and they are a superb team which punished us in the first-half. In the second-half, we (Geylang International) adapted well to our offensive strategy and we changed the pace of the game by putting more pressure on them.”

Jorg, who won the Singapore Cup with Tanjong Pagar back in 1998, also shared, “In the end, we got the job done and now we look forward to the quarter-finals and I believe this squad can go one step more than last year’s edition.”

Geylang International FC will now face either Hougang United or Philippines side, Global FC in the next round of the top domestic club knockout competition. With the same character and commitment, the Eagles may be able to soar high and replicate the championship run, back in 2009.

Full Time : Geylang International FC (Hafiz Nor 69’, Jozef Kaplan 85’) 2 – 1 (Khouanta Sivonthong 26’) Lao Police FC

EAGLES’ Editor Man Of The Match: Hafiz Nor

Geylang International FC: Yazid Yazin (GK), Yuki Ichikawa, Kento Fukuda, Anaz Hadee, Syed Thaha, Tatsuro Inui (Shawal Anuar 80’), Hafiz Nor (Khairulnizam Jumahat 88’), Shah Hirul (Mustaqim Manzur 46’), Jozef Kaplan (C), Bruno Castanheira, Nor Azli

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