Friendly Match: Geylang International 2-1 LionsXII
By Eagles Admin on 14 August 2013
A make-shift Eagles side travelled to Jurong West stadium earlier to spar with Malaysian Super League champions, Lions XII in the wake of a lull in the fixtures this week.
Clad merely in training jerseys, the Eagles were met on the pitch by what appeared to be a de-facto national side as the Lions XII lads wore the country’s flag on their chests instead of the official club logo.
Coming back from the Hari Raya festive weekend, the Eagles started the game slow but soon the dust was shaken off the feathers and the Eagles took flight assuredly.
The first half saw familiar faces in unfamiliar positions with the jarring ones being Wahyudi Wahid and Taufiq Ghani functioning as centre-backs and Yasir Hanapi as right-back. Prime Leaguer Ashrul Syafeeq was also in the starting line-up, entrusted the task of marshalling procedures in the middle of the park.
It was perhaps an experiment by Coach V Kanan to see how the team can function given the headache which is Geylang International’s long injury list but the experiment turned out looking rather promising.
The Eagles never looked to be in much trouble against what seemed to be a lethargic-looking Malaysian league champions. Veteran Noor Ali barely broke a sweat in the first half, distributing precise passes time and again which exposed gaps in the Lions XII backline and allowed ‘Captain Marvel’ Jozef Kaplan and Stefan Milojevic to wreak havoc in the opponent’s final third.
Stalwarts Yasir Hanapi, Jalal and Duncan Elias played with a vigour that took their younger opponents by surprise. The already versatile Wahyudi Wahid took his reputation for said versatility up another notch as he withstood pressure upon pressure of the Lions XII counter-attacks, spearheaded by none other than Fazrul Nawaz.
Rookie centre-back Wahyudi read the attacks well and Fazrul, who have gained quite a reputation in Malaysia as a dangerous striker, could be seen to be visibly frustrated.
The Eagles have always been best described to be a counter-attacking team in the S-League so far this season but this time, they took the ‘counter’ out of that description and loaned it to their opponents.
Sublime movements off the ball by the attacking squadron of Stefan, Jozef and Ihata meant that the Lions XII defence had a torrid time throughout.
It was inevitable then when Stefan Milojevic intercepted a clearance in the 35th minute, the resulting play led to Geylang International’s first goal after an array of passes played at a high tempo. Jalal had pounced onto Stefan’s interception and quickly released the ball to Ihata who passed it back to Stefan. A simple nutmeg and a flick later, Jozef Kaplan found himself with only the keeper to beat and he made no mistake.
A lapse in concentration just before half-time though saw the Lions XII levelling the score. The ball found an unmarked Izzdin Shafiq at the far corner who shot hard and straight at Takuma Ito who only succeeded in punching the ball into the net.
The second half saw the likes of Joey Sim and Hengthaveephokasub Panuwat coming on for Ito and Ashrul Shafeeq. Nothing much changed from the proceedings in the first half but V Kanan can be assured by the performances of his Prime League players who were on.
The defensive partnership of Wahyudi Wahid and H Panuwat never seemed to be under serious threat throughout and handled any forays that went their way well enough. Jalal by now had dropped back to left-back to accommodate Andrew Tan who impressed with his well-timed runs.
Stefan, Ihata and Captain Jozef had several chances to restore the lead but the Lions XII defenders’ last gasp efforts to thwart them ensured the scoreline remained as it was.
The Eagles were not to be denied though and in the 83rd minute, a weak clearance by the Lions XII defence off a Jozef Kaplan effort found the Eagles’ advancing midfield and the ball was knocked back to a grateful Captain Jozef. He beat his marker with a single touch and slotted the ball into the bottom left corner and wrong-footing the Lions XII keeper in the process.
The score remained until the referee had had enough and called time on the game with the Eagles emerging triumphant again in their constant sparring sessions with the Lions XII and this time with a score of two to one.