Tigers Fightback to Floor Eagles in First Leg
By Deepanraj Ganesan on 28 June 2014
Some sides finish matters the easy way and others make it hard for themselves but eventually get the job done. Geylang International will have to dig in and do it the hard way if they are to progress to the semi-finals in the RHB Singapore Cup after a 2-1 defeat to Balestier Khalsa in the first leg of their quarter final tie at the Toa Payoh Stadium.
The Eagles started the match brightly, going at the Tigers with the help of their pacy attackers Ridhuan Muhammad and Hafiz Nor. And it took only six minutes for the away side to register their first goal. A brilliant run down the right flank ended with Captain Ridhuan Muhammad producing a peach of a cross for Hafiz Nor to stab into the net. 1-0 to the Eagles and it seemed to be start of many goals for them.
Shortly after the goal, the Eagles threatened, pegging back the Tigers in their own half with Ridhuan Muhammad and Hafiz Nor looking most lively. The captain played a 30 yard ball which fell nicely onto the path of Hafiz. But before the latter could take a shot, a Balestier defender made a timely intervention to clear the danger.
The away then received an extra boost as the referee sent Balestier Khalsa defender Yusikandar Yusop off for a badly timed challenge on Franco Chivilo. The referee soon blew for half time and the Eagles went into the break pleased with their efforts and with the fact that they now had an numerical advantage.
But things didn’t quite go the way of the Eagles in the second half. They had initially made some good moves but the desire and efforts put in the first half were not apparent in the second period.
Siddiq Durimi’s long punt up field fell into the path of Hafiz Nor but the forward’s shot failed to trouble the Balestier custodian who smothered the ball. It proved to be the last attack that the Eagles had whilst being in the lead as the Tigers equalized in the next attack.
Kento Fukuda was penalised for handling the ball in the area and the referee pointed to the spot. Goran Ljubojevic converted the penalty as he wheeled away in delight having secured the equaliser.
The Eagles tried to muster their efforts to regain the lead and Mustaqim Manzur’s rasping drive from outside the box was saved well by the Balestier goalkeeper. Joaquin Lopez then went close from the resulting corner as his header went just over the bar. Wasted chances for the Eagles and they were duly punished.
With a free-kick just above the half way line, the Tigers caught the Eagles’ backline taking a nap as a long ball to Kim Min Ho, allowed the Korean striker to finish past Siddiq Durimi to give Balestier Khalsa a surprise lead.
The Eagles surged forward in search of an equaliser but just could not find a way with the Tigers defence being resilient.
Speaking to Eagles TV after the match, Eagles head coach rued his side’s lacklustre second half performance. He said: “In the second half, we stopped competing and didn’t do the things we did in the first half.” He continued: “The players have to take the responsibility.”
With the second leg to be played on Wednesday at the Bedok Stadium, the Eagles will want to ensure they put it in a performance similar to their first half showing against the Tigers as opposed to the disastrous shift in the second half.
FULL TIME : Balestier Khalsa FC (64′ Goran Ljubojevic, 77′ Kim Min Ho) 2-1 ( 6′ Hafiz Nor)
Geylang International Starting 11 : Siddiq Durimi, Khairulnizam Jumahat, Kento Fukuda, Yuki Ichikawa, Joaquin Lopez (74′ Jalal Jasim), Ridhuan Muhammad, Fabian Kwok, Franco Chivilo, Mustaqim Manzur , Hafiz Nor, Leonel Felice