Warriors end Eagles’ unbeaten home record
By Deepanraj Ganesan on 16 May 2014
Astounding opposition goalkeeping, shots fired against the woodwork and games decided by individual errors. A follower of Geylang International’s recent matches would testify to the fact that the Eagles’ last few matches have been similar in how they have played out. This time, a Hassan Sunny’s master class in goal proved to be the undoing of the Eagles as they surrendered their unbeaten home record to the Warriors FC in a match that finished 1-0 to the away side. Nicholas Velez capitalized on a defensive error as he struck the only goal of the match, late in the first half. The Eagles piled the pressure on the Warriors but could not find their way past an inspired Hassan Sunny in the opposition goal.
Going into the match with a promise to attack the second placed Warriors, Eagles’ head coach stuck to his word as he named an attacking first eleven with Hafiz Nor replacing the suspended Mustaqim Manzur on the left flank. In a tight match where it seemed one goal would be enough to clinch it, the Eagles enjoyed the better chances in the first half.
Leonel Felice, the Eagles’ top scorer this season was at the heart of every attack for the home side. The Argentinian was proving to be a thorn in the Warriors’ defence as he helped his side to win three free kicks in dangerous position with his hold up play. And, the best chance of the half fell to him. Anticipating a cross from Ridhuan Muhammad, the forward rose highest to meet the ball. His header however, whistled past the post.
The Warriors however were to convert their only clear chance just minutes later. As the ball was pumped towards the Eagles’ backline, it seemed like Joaquin Lopez had it under control. But the young defender’s hesitation to clear the ball resulted in Nicholas Velez nicking the ball off his compatriot and blasting the ball into the net past Joey Sim. 1-0 to the Warriors and perhaps ironic given that Geylang had the ball in the net just an attack earlier, only for Kento Fukuda’s header to be ruled out for an offside.
As both teams came back out for the second half and as the supporters returned to their seats, little did anyone know that the second period would be a display of astute goalkeeping from both sets of custodians. Joey Sim and Hassan Sunny seemed to stop everything that came their way.
Franco Chivilo picked up the ball in the middle of the park and drove at the opposition defence before playing a killer ball for Aliff Shafaein. With only the keeper to beat, the forward saw his shot parried away by Hassan Sunny. A visible display of frustrations from the Geylang bench but it was only to be the start of their disgruntlement.
Minutes later, it was Joey Sim’s turn to show the watching faithful how to make a save. The Suzuki Cup winner pulled off a remarkable save to keep out Hafiz Rahim’s shot and to effectively keep his side in the match.
The closing stages of the match saw the Eagles pile on the pressue in a bid to salvage their unbeaten home record. But it was Hassan Sunny in the Warriors goal that was determined to keep a clean sheet. Captain Marvel Ridhuan Muhammad used his pace to perfection as he blitzed past the Warriors backline. His stinging shot however was saved by Hassan.
There was still time for Ridhuan to crack an effort against the post. It seemed that there was no way the Eagles could register a goal on the night.
The tie was threatening to turn into a personal duel between Ridhuan and Hassan as the latter pulled off what was perhaps the save of the match with the last real chance of the game. With the match well into added time, the ball was crossed into the box. Ridhuan positioned himself on the outskirts of the area and mastered a perfectly timed volley towards goal. Hassan Sunny had other ideas though, leaping outstretched to tip the ball past the post.
The referee blew the whistle and it signalled the end of a pulsating match which ended in favour of the Warriors. A defiant head coach was , Geylang International’s head coach Jorg Steinebrunner who answered with a firm “No” when asked if his side had been second best on the night. He said: “We were the better team. How can we be second best if we had five good chances in the second half.”
Going forward, the German felt the performance from his charges was a tell-tale of the Eagles’ rise. He said: “We lost three points but it is a performance we can build on. Performance wise, we showed how good we are and credit to the players.”
FINAL SCORE: Geylang International FC 0-1 Warriors FC (39’ Nicholas Velez)
EaglesTV Man of the Match: Joey Sim
First Eleven: Joey Sim, Yuki Ichikawa, Kento Fukuda, Joaquin Lopez (77’ Khairulnizam Jumahat), Jalal Jasim (83’ Hyder Ismail), Ridhuan Muhammad (C), Fabian Kwok, Franco Chivilo, Hafiz Nor, Aliff Shafaein, Leonel Felice