Eagles soar into the semi-finals
By Deepanraj Ganesan on 20 July 2014
Back in March, Geylang International rang the changes as Jorg Steinebrunner was brought in as head coach. In his first interview, he revealed his hope to win a cup with the Eagles. The German after all, is known for his pedigree in cup competitions, winning the inaugural league cup with Woodlands Wellington. After last night, hope is closer than ever to being a reality.
Geylang International secured a 3-1 victory over Albirex Niigata(S) and will now proceed into the semi-finals to face Brunei DPMM. Kento Fukuda’s thumping header gave the Eagles a first half lead. Leonel Felice then extended the lead with a spot kick. The Japanese side tried to find their way back into the match and got a goal to unsettle the Eagles. But Hafiz Nor’s sublime effort in stoppage time meant that Geylang International wrapped up the tie in convincing fashion.
The Eagles kicked off in a 4-1-4-1 set-up with Aliff Shafaein, Mustaqim Manzur, Thorsten Schneider, Leonel Felice and Ridhuan Muhammad all starting in an attacking looking line up. The opening 10 minutes saw the home side looking to grab an early lead but could not force a real chance in front of goal. But the early warning signs for Albirex were there and warning soon turned into catastrophe for the Japanese side.
A well swung in corner was met by former Albirex Niigata(S) player, Kento Fukuda. The defender stooped low to send a thumping header into the net.
The away side tried to hit back but the Eagles defence was having a field day thwarting the Albirex attackers. Joey Sim in particular performed heroics in front of goal, producing a super save just before half time to ensure his side went into the half time break with the 1-0 lead intact.
Aliff Shafaein and Hafiz Nor, again in lively form, almost bagged the second of the night for the Eagles in the first half but their shot and header respectively, were turned away by the Albirex custodian with fine saves.
The second half saw the Eagles continue the work they had left off in the first half. Hafiz Nor was a menace all night down the flanks and it was his trickery that forced the Albirex Niigata defender to commit a foul in the box. The referee pointed to the spot and Leonel Felice dispatched the spot kick with the coolest of finishes.
Albirex forced their way back into the tie and sent the Eagles panicking in their boots. Former Eagle, Norihiro Kawakami capitalised on a defensive error to pull one back for the away side. It was set to be nervous last few minutes for the Eagles. Till, Hafiz Nor decide to round off an already fascinating performance with a strike worthy of a thousand replays.
On the counter, it seemed Hafiz Nor would take the ball into the channels to run the clock down or perhaps use his pace to run at the fatigued Japanese defenders. Instead, the former Singapore national winger chipped the ball over the keeper from at least 30 yards away. A sublime performance from the Eagles capped off deservedly by a corker of a strike.
An escatic coach after the game was, Eagles’ Jorg Steinebrunner. He applauded the team’s unity and believed the achievement was all down to his players. He said: “The team put up another great performance. We looked defensively good and we went forward, we knew what we wanted to do.”
He continued: “We have good players but no one is bigger than the team and everyone fights for the team. We showed that today.”
Final Score: Geylang International (20’ Kento Fukuda, 56’ Leonel Felice, 90’ Hafiz Nor) 3-1 Albirex Niigata(S) (70’ Norihiro Kawakami)
Geylang International line up : Joey Sim, Ridhuan Muhammad(C), Kento Fukuda, Yuki Ichikawa, Joaquin Lopez, Fabian Kwok, Hafiz Nor, Thorsten Schneider (73’ Thorsten Schneider), Aliff Shafaein (61’ Shah Hirul), Mustaqim Manzur (78’ Khairulnizam Jumahat), Leonel Felice