Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Back in Green for a night

Kim wins the duel of Koreans as Eagles snap winless streak

Tuesday night’s Great Eastern-Yeo’s S-League match saw two Koreans who recently joined their respective teams in the mid-season transfer window go head-to-head.

After ninety minutes, it was clear which Korean had stamped his authority on the game. The name more local fans would be familiar with - Geylang’s Kim Jae Hong, won the battle hands down as the attacking midfielder created the first goal before adding his name to the scoresheet, leading Geylang United to a comfortable 2-0 victory at Hougang Stadium.

His counterpart, Sengkang’s An Jae Cheul, huffed and puffed in the middle of the park but hardly made an impact before being substituted in the second half.

No doubt Geylang fans will be glad to see Kim back with the side as the Korean had played a key role in the Eagles’ cup triumph last season with his penetrating runs and crucial goals.

With this performance, it looks like the Eagles’ managment have done a good piece of business in replacing the injury-hit Miroslav Latiak, who has been bothered with groin problems all season,
The win allows the Eagles to snap a five game winless streak and move up to fourth place in the league standings.

Sengkang coach Aide Iskandar had sprang a surprise in his line-up when he paired a half-fit Jordan Webb with livewire Mamadou Diallo upfront, probably seeking to exploit the Geylang’s defence with sheer pace.

However, even before his plan could take effect, his team found themselves already a goal down.
Off a Syed Thaha throw-in from the left after just fifty seconds into the match, Kim dazzled his way past a couple of defenders into the Sengkang penalty area. After some pinball in the box, teammate Itmi Dickson finally found space to thump the ball into the roof of the net to leave the Sengkang players shell-shocked.

With a goal advantage, the Eagles sat back a little but still managed to control much of the game.
Itimi was proving to be a handful early on as his pace and trickery left the Sengkang defenders backpedalling on many occasions in the first period.

At the other end, it was Mamadou who was causing the Eagles backline problems with his darting runs.

In the 36th minute, the Guinean youngster won a freekick which he himself executed. The swerving attempt was good but Eagles custodian Yazid Yasin proved his worth with a good save.
Three minutes earlier, a misjudgement by Shahir Hamzah had almost led in Kim but Dolphins’ keeper Fadhil Salim was alert and diverted the Korean’s half volley away with his legs.

Just before the break, Sengkang had two good opportunities to equalize.

First, midfielder Sobrie Mazelan struck a fierce volley that just missed Yazid’s righthand post. The chance came after Webb had set him up well from leftback Duncan Elias’ sweet cross.
Then in the 44th minute, Webb took on a few Geylang defenders before feeding Jalal.

Unfortunately, the winger was called for offiside else he would have been through on goal. It was a let-off for the Eagles’ defence.

The Dolphins came out of the dressing room looking for the equaliser and almost got it in the 48th minute had their own Korean An not been so wasteful.

Webb showed excellent control and acceleration as he pulled down a high ball before dashing down the by-line. His pullback was brilliant but An somehow blazed over from ten yards. It was probably the home side’s best chance on the night.

Next up to threaten Yazid in the Geylang goal was Duncan, whose usual set-piece routine caused chaos in the Eagles’ penalty area on a couple of occasions.

Geylang on the other hand, was relying on their swift counter attacks with Kim and half-time substitute Yasir Hanapi leading the charge.

It was through one of this combination in the 56th minute which striker Peter Tomko almost profited, however, his marker Shahir did well to deflect the Slovak’s attempt wide.
A minute later, a poor kickout by Fadhil proved costly for the Dolphins.

Geylang wingback Syed Fadhil intercepted the kick and played a long ball down the middle which the pacy Kim reacted quickest and latched on to. The Korean took a touch with his left boot to control before finishing clinically into the Sengkang goal with his right.

It was the Eagles’ fleet footed attacker’s first goal since returning to the Eagles early this month.

Though two goals down, the Dolphins continued to show effort through their hard running but was let down their passing and decision making, especially in the last third of the field.

On the few occasions that Mamadou, Jordan, and gang conjured up promising moves near the Geylang goal, a combination of uncompromising defending by the Geylang defenders and alert goalkeeping by Yazid kept the Dolphins at bay.

In fact, it was Kim who had the best chance to get the game’s third goal towards the end of the game when a smart inter-change with Yasir and Tomko saw the Korean broke free down the left.

But from a narrow angle, he could only blast the ball high and off target.

Reflecting on the game, a visibly dejected Aide Iskandar admitted that Geylang were the better and hungrier side on the night. Summing up the game, he said, “It was disappointing to concede an early goal. Although we played much better in the second half, another mistake caused us to lose a second goal”.

In contrast, Eagles’ coach Mike Wong was in a more positive mood. He commented, “I am happy with the three points, but we still made some silly mistakes in the game”.

Looking forward to their next game against their eastern rivals Tampines Rovers in twelve days time, he added, “This mini break will give us time to reorganise and this win is important as it will lift the players’ spirits during this period.”

When quizzed about Kim’s performance, Wong commented, “Yes, Kim is an important player to us as he can exploit spaces behind the opponents’ defence. I am happy that he has scored on his third game back with us and hopefully his form will last long till the end of the season”.

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