Eagles suffer surprise defeat
By Deepanraj Ganesan on 20 June 2014
It is often the case that the 22 players on the pitch decide the matters on the pitch with goalkeepers, defenders, midfielders and strikers having to produce sublime moments to win it for their teams. But at Bedok Stadium, it was the match officials who ultimately had a say in the final result as Harimau Muda emerged 3-2 winners over Geylang International.
The match got off to a rather low key start with both teams struggling to contain possession. The Eagles who had kept three consecutive clean sheets prior to the match saw Siddiq Durimi continues his commanding presence at the back line, coming out to claim crosses confidently in the opening period of the match. But soon enough, Siddiq was forced into serious action.
Harimau Muda’s Ramzi Haziq found himself with ample of space in the box and steered his shot towards goal. But Siddiq leapt to push the ball away for a corner with a great save.
The Eagles too had a good chance in the opening minutes. A typical great build up play from Geylang International ended with Leonel Felice receiving the ball in the box. But as the forward shot towards goal, a Harimau Muda defender charged the shot down for a corner. A chance wasted and a chance that the Eagles were forced to rue just minutes later.
A defence splitting pass saw Shahrul Igwan free in the box and the Harimau Muda player stroked the ball beyond Siddiq Durimi’s reach to give the away side a shock lead. If there were gasps around Bedok Stadium then they only grew more audible in the next few minutes.
A cross that came in gave the Geylang International defence all kinds of problems as they failed to clear their lines. Amidst the mess, Syawal Nordin reacted first to the loose ball in the box and poked it into the net. 2-0 to Harimau Muda and head coach Jorg Steinebrunner was not a pleased man on the touchline.
The second half saw a contrasting display from the Eagles compared to the first half. Packing more tenacity and adventure in their play, the Eagles were determined to find a way into the match. And they nearly did, if not for a dubious call from the assistant referee.
A long ball towards Leonel Felice, saw the Argentinian flick the ball on for Aliff Shafaein. He took the ball in his stride and finished past the Harimau Muda goalkeeper. The “Little Master” then went on to retrieve the ball from the net convinced that he had just pulled one back for the Eagles. But to his surprise and the watching faithful’s utter astonishment, the linesman raised his flag to signal for an offside call.
The Eagles continued to probe and in the 58th minute, should have scored through Yuki Ichikawa. Finding himself free with only the keeper to beat, the Japanese defender could only blast his effort wide. Mustaqim Manzur then came close, dazzling his way past a defender before striking at goal but the Harimau Muda keeper was alert to tip it over the bar.
The Eagles then had a lifeline. Yuki Ichikawa was clearly tugged back by a Harimau Muda defender and the referee pointed to the spot. Leonel Felice stepped up and made no mistakes to give Eagles the life line in the 81st minute.
The equaliser came soon after the goal as the Eagles grew in confidence. A wonderfully delivered corner found the head of Kento Fukuda and the defender thumped his header into the net sparking wild celebrations among the Eagles supporters.
The match seemed destined to have a winner as Geylang International pushed bodies forward to find the crucial winner. But the decision left spaces at the back and Harimau Muda punished the Eagles’ naivety.
Deep into injury time, Ramzi Sufian ran on to finish past Siddiq Durimi and claim the winner.
Eagles Head coach Jorg Steinebrunner was not a happy man after the final whistle. Speaking to EAGLES TV, he said: “In the first half, it was a bad team performance. There’s no denying that. In the second half we came back and showed our true colours. But in the second half, there were really dubious decisions by the linesman.”
3-2 to Harimau Muda it finished at the Bedok Stadium as the young Malaysian side turned in a spirited performance. But on reflection it was an encounter that the officials will not be too fond of for their displays.
Full Time : Geylang International (82′ Leonel Felice, 85′ Kento Fukuda) 2- 3 Harimau Muda (38’Shahrul Igwan, 41′ Syawal Nordin, 90′ Ramzi Sufian)
EAGLES TV Man Of The Match: Mustaqim Manzur
Geylang International Starting 11 vs Harimau Muda : Siddiq Durimi, Khairulnizam Jumahat, Kento Fukuda, Yuki Ichikawa, Jalal Jasim (67′ Hafiz Nor), Ridhuan Muhammad (C) (75′ Fuad Ramli), Fabian Kwok, Franco Chivilo, Mustaqim Manzur, Aliff Shafaein (80′ Jonathan Tan), Leonel Felice