Semi-final exit for the Eagles
By Andrew Ang on 22 July 2014
Faced with the toughest possible route to the finals, the Eagles conquered all before them but just as they were about to swoop in on the showpiece finale, the heads dropped and Brunei DPMM rolled in to emerge victorious in the Starhub League Cup semi-final.
After a 0-0 stalemate in 120 minutes of end to end football, the tie was cruelly decided via a penalty shootout. Brunei DPMM converted three out of their four spot kicks while Geylang International missed with their first three attempts resulting in a 3-0 loss, in the shootout for the Eagles.
The first half saw limited action in front of goal as both sides were reduced to taking shots from outside the penalty area. The shots did little to trouble goalkeepers at either end.
Leonel Felice and Mustaqim Manzur got the better of their markers on numerous occasions but their shots, were easily gathered by the Brunei custodian.
The first half came to an end and both sides had matched each other play for play.
If the first half were to be described as dour, then it all came alive in the second half. Brunei DPMM threw bodies forward in search of the opener but found a defense marshalled by Kento Fukuda a tough one to crack.
When Brunei DPMM did find a way past Kento Fukuda and his defensive troops, they found a stumbling block in Joey Sim. Roy O Donovan broke free but his shot was parried well by the former Suzuki Cup winner.
The clock ticked down towards full time and the Eagles were in search of the elusive goal when the match’s controversial moment occurred. Aliff Shafaein’s pass sprang the Brunei DPMM ‘s defence open and Hafiz Nor surged forward to get on to the ball. Wardun Yusof, the Brunei custodian came rushing out and upended Hafiz Nor who had been clearly through on goal.
Despite being the last man, referee Sukhbir Singh chose not to send off the goalkeeper and brandished his yellow card instead.
If that was not close enough, another chance went agonizingly begging for the Eagles in stoppage time. A well swung in cross found the head of Leonel Felice. With only the keeper to beat, the Argentinian’s header came cannoning back off the crossbar.
Brunei DPMM cleared their lines and the referee signalled the end of full time.
Extra time presented few opportunities for both sides in a match destined for the cruel shootout. Despite waves of relentless Brunei attack, the Geylang defense remained resilient and shut out the league leaders.
Hafiz Nor, Leonel Felice and Khairulnizam Jumhat failed to hold their nerves in the shoot-out and Brunei DPMM took advantage to book themselves a place in the League Cup final.
Despite being knocked out of the league cup, head coach Jorg Steinebrunner praised his side as he echoed the positives. With the 0-0 draw against Brunei DPMM, the Eagles had emerged unbeaten despite facing four of the top five teams in the league en route to their semi-final exit.