Stunning fightback sees Eagles floor The Cheetahs
By Deepanraj Ganesan on 12 April 2014
Players and fans celebrate after Leonel Felice score the winning goal
It proved to be an unforgettable night at the Jalan Besar Stadium, particularly for anyone connected to Geylang International as the Eagles staged a remarkable comeback from two goals down to win Hougang United 3-2. It looked to be the end of Jorg Steinebrunner‘s unbeaten run after a first half goal from Geison Moura and a Fairoz Hasan effort in the second half had given Hougang United a two goal lead. However, a spirited fight back saw the Eagles net thrice in a space of 10 minutes as goals from Ridhuan Muhammad and Leonel Felice helped Geylang International to secure all three points and extend the side’s unbeaten run to four games since the arrival of the new head coach.
It all started horrendously for the Eagles. After a short corner to Azhar Sairudin, the midfielder whipped the ball into the penalty box. An unmarked Geison Moura did well to poke the ball towards goal in a crowded box, to give his side the lead. Despite taking the lead, Hougang managed to shoot themselves in the foot, just minutes later. A loose ball in the middle of the park saw Fabian Kwok get stuck in with Hougang’s Azhar Sairudin. The latter inexplicably threw a punch at the Geylang hard man and rightly deserved the red card shown by the referee. Hougang reduced to 10 men, and the Eagles strived to take the initiative.
Fabian Kwok was superb in midfield last night
Franco Chivilo and Fabian Kwok took control of the midfield battle and looked to start attack after attack for the Eagles, but each time as the ball was prodded through for the attackers. Hougang United cleared their lines convincingly. It was perhaps a tell-tale of the first half for the Eagles that their best effort came via a set piece. Hamqammal Shah’s effort from outside the box sailed just over the bar with the keeper beaten. As both teams headed into the tunnel for half time, the scoreboard at Jalan Besar read 1-0 to Hougang United.
Geylang International made an early change in the second half, with Coach Jorg Steinebrunner, making a tactical change to bring Aliff Shafaein on for Hamqammal Shah and throwing the former up front together with Leonel Felice in what was a 3-5-2 formation.
Hougang took advantage of a slip from Franco Chivilo
It seemed to work as Geylang enjoyed a decent spell of possession, as they looked to get themselves back in the tie. But soon, it was disaster for the Eagles. As Franco Chivilo looked to start another attack, the Argentinean slipped on the surface and lost possession. Substitute Fairoz Hasan took advantage to prod the ball for his side’s second goal. 2-0 to Hougang United and the match looked to be buried.
But from the dead, emerged the Eagles. Miscuing a clearance, the Hougang defense gifted the ball to Ridhuan Muhammad. The Eagles’ captain needed no second chances, as he mercilessly slammed the ball into the net to give his side a lifeline at 2-1. The goal seemed to pep the side, as Geylang International went in search of the inevitable equalizer.
Former Eagle Wahyudi Wahid and his goalkeeper Nazri Sabri failed to communicate and they clashed while attempting to clear their lines.
Former Eagle Wahyudi Wahid and his goalkeeper Nazri Sabri failed to communicate and they clashed while attempting to clear their lines. Like the poacher he is, Leonel Felice ghosted in to knock the ball into an empty net to make it 2-2. Wild celebrations from the Eagles supporters, but it proved to be just a preview of what was coming.
Arguably the man of the match, Fabian Kwok collected the ball on the right flank. The midfielder, who started his first match since his return from a freak injury, played a peacher of a cross for Leonel Felice. In dramatic fashion, he Argentinean brilliantly powered home his header to give Eagles the lead in the third minute of added time. As he wheeled away in celebration, the Geylang International bench and supporters went into euphoria. The referee soon called time on the tie, and the Eagles had recorded a memorable 3-2 victory over Hougang United.
Head coach Jorg Steinebrunner was elated with the victory but admitted that his side did not produce a performance that he has come to expect during his brief period at the club.
Head coach Jorg Steinebrunner was elated with the victory but admitted that his side did not produce a performance that he has come to expect during his brief period at the club. He said: “We didn’t perform as well as the last three games but we kept believing and kept working hard so that’s a good thing.”
When asked on what he had said to the players during half time, the German revealed: “In football, a match isn’t lost till the final whistle and we saw that today. I just told the players they had to believe and tactically we made changes to up the pace of the game because we were too slow in the first half”.
After three consecutive losses, the Eagles are unbeaten in the last four matches.
The unbeaten run for Jorg’s rejuvenated Eagles stretches to four games, after their third win in four matches. These are happy times for Geylang International, a night that would have sent chills down the spines of a supporters and players whilst cajoling the recollection of Geylang’s glory days.
FINAL SCORE: Geylang International 3 (80′ Ridhuan Muhammad, 85′,90′ Leonel Felice) Hougang United 2 (Geison Moura 21′ , 69′ Fairoz Hasan)
Geylang International Team Line Up: Joey Sim, Yuki Ichikawa, Kento Fukuda, Joaquin Lopez, Hamqammal Shah (47′ Aliff Shafaein), Hafiz Nor (87′ Jalal Jasim) , Franco Chivilo, Fabian Kwok, Mustaqim Manzur, Ridhuan Muhammad, Leonel Felice