Eagles Soar The Skies Of Bedok With A Victory Over Tigers
By Andrew Ang on 5 March 2017
A goal each in both halves gave Geylang International their first victory in the 2017 Great Eastern-Hyundai S.League season, after triumphing Balestier Khalsa 2-0 at the Bedok Stadium on Saturday night.
The Eagles took the lead from an unlikely source, when Al-Qaasimy notched his first professional goal in the S.League by opening the scoring in the first-half, before Shawal Anuar’s strike sealed the deal for Geylang.
The two-time S.League champions came into the game looking to bounce back from last week’s 0-2 loss to Hougang United, as coach Hasrin Jailani made several tactical changes to the team.
Argentine midfielder, Ricardo Sendra was once again side-lined due to injury, but this time, young Myanmar starlet, Min Thi Ha whom plies his trade with the Prime League team, was given the nod to start for the Eagles’ first home game of 2017.
The speed and guile of the 18-year-old, indeed caught the immediate attention of the 1,755-strong crowd at the Eagles’ Nest in the opening minutes, as his nifty footwork caused problems in the Tigers’ back-line.
However, the visitors had the first chance on goal as new foreign signing, Linn Kyaw Chit placed his shot into the bottom corner, but Anders Aplin hacked the attempt away, with a timely goal-line clearance.
Soon later, Aung Kyaw Naing outwitted the offside trap and raced towards goal without any defenders on his back. Nevertheless, Syazwan Buhari’s attentiveness and quick reflexes denied the former, a shot at goal.
With Balestier dictating most of the action and the pressure on Geylang to perform on home soil, the Eagles showcased their ‘hunger for goals’ in the 26th minute as they broke the deadlock with a fortunate conversion.
Costa Rican striker Victor Coto fluffed his lines from Al-Qaasimy’s left-wing cross, but the latter threw his body on the line and followed up with a slide, to thump home the opener, amidst a goalmouth scramble.
With the Eagles a goal up, Balestier huffed and puffed in a bid to level matters before half-time. Nevertheless, Hazzuwan Halim and Fadli Kamis efforts were blocked and saved, respectively.
After the break, Geylang continued in the same manner they ended the first and their persistence paid off in the 59th minute as the Eagles pulled further ahead. Shawal dribbled into the box from the right and launched a rocket at goal. Zaiful parried his shot straight back at the winger, whom then made no mistake from close range, to double the lead.
The visitors though, refused to give up and they almost pulled a goal back twice through free-kicks from Raihan Rahman and Kyaw Zayar Win, only to see Syazwan hang on to his clean sheet by denying them with outstanding saves.
The Bedok-based club should have added the icing on the cake, with another goal or two before full-time. Both Shahfiq Ghani and Shawal were guilty of not putting the ball into the back of the net after receiving visionary passes from their teammates, as their efforts failed to trouble the opposing custodian, despite being only a few yards away from goal.
Nevertheless, time soon expired and the final whistle was blown to award the Eagles their first clean sheet and three points of 2017, in which could hopefully churn up a winning momentum.
Speaking after the game, Hasrin Jailani was delighted that his charges converted shots into goals, but expects more from them, “The difference tonight is scoring goals. In the last game against Hougang, we had two clear chances in the second half but did not convert. Today we did and we could have scored more, if we were much composed in front of goal. We could have paid the price for being careless in front of goal. But it is over and we got the three points, so next up are the Rhinos”.
Geylang International FC will now travel to Choa Chu Kang Stadium to face the gutsy Warriors FC on 10th March 2016!
Full Time : Geylang International FC (Al-Qaasimy Rahman 24’, Shawal Anuar 59’) 2 – 0 Balestier Khalsa FC
EAGLES’ Editor Man Of The Match: Al-Qaasimy Rahman
Geylang International FC: Syazwan Buhari (GK), Anders Aplin (Nor Azli Yusoff 43’), Yuki Ichikawa, Isa Halim (C), Faritz Hameed, Shahfiq Ghani, Safirul Sulaiman, Victor Coto (Taufiq Ghani 78’), Al-Qaasimy Rahman, Shawal Anuar, Min Tin Ha (Gabriel Quak 57’)
*Photos Courtesy of S.League