Geylang International FC

Friendly Match: Geylang International 1-0 Tampines Rovers

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Having not played a game since the 26th of last month, the Eagles managed to get league leaders, Tampines Rovers FC, down for a friendly game earlier today at Bedok Stadium. What followed was a brilliant 1-0 victory for the Eagles in a display of fast on-the-ground attacking football which overwhelmed the visitors from Clementi.

Besides Argentinian Matias Ariel Bravo, three other foreign trialists were also present. They are, Argentinian Filipetto Ezequiel Nicolas, a defensive midfielder and centreback, Englishman Anthony Lyons, a striker and Canadian Shermin Emmanuel, a midfielder.

Eagles gaffer, V. Kanan opted to start with the two Argentinians in the first half and the decision soon paid dividends.

Attacking off the bat, the high tempo game the Eagles played took the Stags by surprise and a rather unfamiliar scene greeted those present at Bedok Stadium. Most of the play was in the Stags half of the pitch!

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The attacking triangle of Matias Ariel Bravo, Jozef Kaplan and Stefan Milojevic linked superbly and had the Stags running in circles trying to understand what it was that was hitting them.

Supported on the flanks by veteran Noor Ali and Yasir Hanapi, ably covered with a solid display by Filipetto holding the center, the Eagles midfield was a sight to behold. The Eagles showed everyone that they did not deserve to be in the bottom half of the table.

Kanan’s defensive line of Wahyudi Wahid, Taufig Ghani, Norihiro and Jalal had no problems holding off whatever the Stags’ attackers conspired to unleash.

The only time the Eagles suffered a scare was when Ito’s clearance hit the boots of Aleksander Duric and the rebound only managed to hit the post before it was immediately cleared.

It only took 20 minutes of constant pressure and the league leaders’ defence finally crumbled. A superbly weighted through ball by Captain Jozef was chased down enthusiastically by Stefan. No Stags on the pitch that time could match Stefan’s  speed and the Stags’ keeper could not match his shot that followed.

With that goal, the silence on the Stags’ bench was heard louder than the instructions shouted just prior.

The Stags attempted to match the speed at which the Eagles were flying but fell short always as they attempted in vain to level the score.

Ito was replaced by Joey Sim after the break but Kanan made no further changes for a while, seemingly enthralled by the display his lads were putting up on the field.

The situation on the field remained the same as it was from the first half. The Stags grew visibly frustrated by the fitter Eagles side and were lucky not to fall further behind on several occassions.

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Eventually, coach Kanan remembered he had to let the other players have some game time as well and changes were made halfway into the second half.

First, Sherwin Emmanuel came on for Taufiq Ghani and proceeded to make his presence felt. Then, wingers Noor Ali and Yasir Hanapi came off for Andrew Tan and Nurhazwan who both did well to maintain the threat both Noor Ali and Yasir had been the whole time. Duncan Elias came on for Jalal.

UK striker, Anthony Lyons finally came on for Jozef to see what he could do against the Stags. Sherwin Emmanuel displayed good reading of the game and made some decent interceptions to keep the Stags at bay. His ball-control and composure ensured that he did not upset the tempo the Eagles had.

Anthony, on the other hand, showed eagerness and chased every ball that went his way but may need more time to get used to the country’s weather.

The fact that the game ended with Stefan’s goal remaining the difference between the two sides, perhaps tells us that all the players who were on trial managed to fit in quite well, given that it was their first time playing together with the Eagles in a competitive match and boy, was it competitive!

The Stags will never get used to be on the lesser end of things between them and the Eagles. The combative spirit they had ensured that this friendly game was going to be anything but friendly. This time though, the Eagles flew too high for their antlers to reach.

Many positives can be seen and the Eagles definitely looked the fitter side. Matias Ariel Bravo impressed with quick running, hard chasing, intelligent off the ball positioning and immaculate vision. Perhaps he is the one to fit the missing link in the Eagles attacking conundrum.

More than anything, the Eagles also showed that they are ready to finish off the season in style when it resumes next Friday.

Let’s go Eagles!

LINE-UP: Takuma Ito, Wahyudi Wahid, Norihiro Kawakami, Taufiq Ghani (Sherwin Emmanuel), Jalal ( Duncan), Yasir Hanapi (Nurhazwan), Stefan Milojevic, Filipetto Ezequiel Nicolas, Noor Ali (Andrew Tan), Jozef Kaplan (Anthony Lyons), Matias Ariel Bravo

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