Geylang International FC

Eagles soar past Young Tigers

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Geylang International maintained their unbeaten start to the final round of the S-League after an impressive display in a 2-1 win over Harimau Muda.

A brilliant Hafiz Nor goal and a signature Kento Fukuda header came after uncharacteristic slack marking at a set piece had allowed Harimau Muda to take the lead.

The Eagles were dealt a blow prior to kick-off due to the absence of Yuki Ichikawa and had to leave Mustaqim Manzur on the bench as the latter had been nursing a thigh strain.

Veteran Jalal Jasim took Mustaqim’s usual role on the left side of midfield while head coach Jorg Steinebrunner opted for a surprise choice to fill the void left behind by Ichikawa. The ever reliable Fabian Kwok was deployed as the centre back to partner Kento Fukuda and rewarded his coach’s faith, by turning in a man of the match performance against the Young Tigers.

Fabian slotted in seamlessly at centre-back

Fabian slotted in seamlessly at centre-back

The match got off to a cagey start, as Harimau Muda played long balls up field to unsettle a makeshift Geylang backline. The Eagles were happy to hack the ball clear to release the pressure and found themselves go a goal down when slack marking was taken advantage of by Harimau Muda striker, Syafwan Syahlan who headed the ball past a hapless Siddiq Durimi.

But just as the stadium technician updated the scoreboard to reflect the home side’s lead, the Eagles fired in an instant reply.

Hafiz Nor, a player who has been in the fieriest of form, ran at the Harimau Muda defenders , sending them in a dizzying spell, before calmly firing past the Malaysian custodian.

The rest of the first half saw little action with both sides cancelling each other out, especially in the middle of the park.

The second half saw the Eagles dominate with Franco Chivilo getting the better of the second balls and imposing himself in the midfield battle.

At the back, Fabian Kwok made crucial interceptions and played the ball out with confidence of a player who had been centre back all his life.  A Kwok and Kento Fukuda led backline never looked likely to be breached from open play, from the first whistle.

To cap off a defensive masterclass, Kento netted the eventual winner. A brilliant cross from Joaqquin Lopez found the Japanese defender rising highest to thump his header past the goalkeeper. The Japanese wheeled away in delight as he was quickly hugged by fellow teammates including fellow goalscorer Hafiz Nor.

Hafiz Nor and Kento Fukuda celebrate the winner

Hafiz Nor, Franco Chivilo and Kento Fukuda celebrate the winner

Harimau Muda’s miseries were compounded when Abdul Azih got a straight red for late challenge on goalkeeper Siddiq Durimi.

The Eagles will next face Hougang United in what will be the last home game of the season, at the Bedok Stadium.

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