Eagles slay Eastern Rivals to kick-start League Cup campaign
By Deepanraj Ganesan on 8 July 2014
Geylang International kicked their Starhub League Cup campaign off with a banger as they staged a comeback to down their Eastern Rivals, Tampines Rovers. The Eagles went down early to a Jozef Kaplan strike but came out battling in the second half to score through Mustaqim Manzur and Leonel Felice.
It is the Eagles’ second consecutive victory over the defending S-League champions and victory in the derby was sheer delight for fans, coaches and players alike.
Head coach Jorg Steinebrunner sprung a surprise in his line up, giving new signing Thorsten Schneider a start in midfield whilst fielding winger Ridhuan Muhammad in an unfamiliar right back slot.
If the changes were made to give the Eagles a lift, then the first strike on goal was a mighty blow. The Geylang backline failed to get rid of a corner and the ball fell to a familiar figure in the form of former Eagles captain, Jozef Kaplan. The forward’s scuffed shot which was the match’s first show somehow found its way into the net. Tampines lead 1-0 and the response was almost instant.
Leonel Felice, Kento Fukuda and new signing Thorsten Schneider all went close with an equaliser in the following minutes with the latter coming closest. A brilliant cross by Aliff Shafaein found the head of Thorsten but the German failed to keep his header down with only the keeper to beat.
The Eagles’ best chance of the half however, came just before the break. As the ball fell to the feet of Hafiz Nor on the edge of the area, the mercurial winger volleyed the ball towards goal, forcing a great save out of Tampines goalkeeper Justin Pasfield.
The referee blew for the half time interval and the Stags lead 1-0 but if the first half performance was anything to go by, the Eagles fans clung on to the hope of a second half comeback. A comeback which was duly delivered.
As the cries of “Jorg’s Army” were bellowed from the stands from the Eagles supporters, the players responded. The side charged forward at every opportunity to get the equaliser.
Leonel Felice came close first, but his header from point blank failed to trouble the Tampines goalkeeper. But with the next chance, came the equaliser.
Mustaqim Manzur ghosted in from the left flank to get on to a loose ball in the box before he finished past Justin Pasfield. The Eagles were level but the Stags were there for the taking and in minutes the Eagles took the lead.
A lovely exchange of passes between Leonel Felice and Aliff Shafaein ended with Aliff delivering a delightful cross for the Argentinian. Leonel thumped the ball past the Tampines custodian to give the Eagles a well-deserved lead.
Speaking to Eagles TV after the match was a delighted Jorg Steinebrunner. He said: “Congratulations to the team for putting up a good performance. Today the footballing gods were with us.”
He continued: “We looked physically good, we moved well and used our flanks wisely. The boys deserved it tonight.”
The German also downplayed his side’s chances in the tournament as he said: “No, there are a lot of good teams. Dark horses, white horses, whatever you call it. We will take it game by game.”