Saturday, January 14, 2012

REWIND 8/11/2009 - Eagles overcome all odd to end 8-year barren spell

Date: 8 November 2009
Location: Jalan Besar
Match Attendance: 5,870

8 November 2009 has earned itself a place in Geylang United’s history books after the Eagles rounded off a fine 2009 campaign in style by overcoming their underdog tag to clinch the Singapore Cup.

It was the first piece of silverware that the once all-conquering giants of local football took home in eight long years.

In front of a vociferous crowd of 5,870, the Eagles showed character, resilience and discipline to outwit the smooth passing Thai outfit Bangkok Glass through a solitary strike from substitute Hafiz Rahim in the 82th minute.

Man-of-the match Yazid Yasin was in the form of his life, proving to be a one-man wall on many occasions as he repelled the Thais repeatedly to keep his team in the game. His performance was capped by a superb penalty save in the 87th minute.

Coach Mike Wong made one change to his previous starting eleven as he reinstated club captain Noor Ali into a packed midfield.

The Eagles started the match tentatively as they allowed the Thais the early possession. It was only in the 13th minute that the team put together their first inventive move of the night through a counter attack involving Syed Thaha, Miroslav Latiak, Kim Jae Hong and Noor which led to a corner.

From the ensuing set-piece, the Thais broke swiftly to the other end as dangerman Gbenga Ajayi warded off two challenges before unleashing a shot which Yazid palmed away.

Five minutes later, Masrezwan Masturi (Mas) picked up a loose ball and drove at the Thai team backline. As the defence closed him down, Mas laid the ball out wide to Noor who then picked him out with a first time cross but the latter could not make a clean connection.

Ajaki was proving to be a handful for the Eagles and in the 33th minute, the Nigerian raced into the box and pulled the ball back for his strike partner. Luckily, Walid Lounis managed to deflect the effort to safety.

Geylang was getting into the game gradually and two freekicks either side of the half-time break almost provided the breakthrough.

As the game headed to first half injury time, Kim went on a solo run after being played through by Adrian Dhanaraj before being chopped down unceremoniously by the Thais’ captain Amnart.

Off Latiak’s powerpack attempt which deflected off the wall, Kim stole in and tried to nick the ball past keeper Klisana but the angle was just too tight.
The Korean then curled a brilliant left-foot set-piece attempt himself which narrowly missed the goal three minutes after the break.

Through another counter in the 63th minute, Latiak raced down at goal after Noor had played him in with a delightful chip, however, an unexpected bounce off the artificial turf allowed the Thais’ defence to recover and clear the danger.

It sparked Bangkok Glass into action as they started a series of intense bombardment of the Eagles’ goal soon after with playmaker Peeraphong in the thick of things.
The No. 23 gave the slip to both Adrian and Rastislav Belicak in the 64th minute before testing Yazid with a stinger from inside the box which the keeper responded with a brilliant save.

Eight minutes later, Peeraphong’s fierce drive from the edge of the box again needed the intervention of the increasing busy Yazid.

Next, a far post header back across goal from a corner situation for the Thais soon after bounced dangerously just in front the Eagles goal. Once again Yazid showed great agility to punch clear as the Eagles sought to weather the storm.

Geylang rode their luck and their determination was rewarded in the 82th minute. Klisana flapped at Kim’s corner and a goalmouth melee ensued.
Within the space of seconds, Noor and Hafiz Rahim – who had come on ten minutes earlier for Mas, saw their efforts cannoned off the woodwork.

As it is, Lady Luck smiled at the Eagles in the pinball situation as the ball fell at the feet of Hafiz a second time and this time, the striker who had been unlucky with injuries the past few seasons, produced an unerring finish as the fans in green roared in absolute joy.

A controversial decision from the match officials minutes later then had the Eagles’ fans up in protest.

Referee Kenny Ng had waved play on when Ajaki went down under a challenge inside the box. However, the referee overruled his decision when he saw the linesman flagging and instead gave the Thais a penalty kick.

Geylang players disputed the decision and Kim was booked for carrying his arguments too far.

The stage was set for Yazid to play hero yet again and the Geylang custodian obliged by pulling off a stunning save from Supachai.

Frustration soon took over the Thais and substitute Nantawat was given a straight red card in the 90th minute for a tackle from behind on Kim.

The Eagles held on for the remaining three minutes of added time and joyous scenes soon broke out at the final whistle.

Coach Mike Wong post-match attributed this tremendous cup run to the fantastic team spirit in the dressing room and revealed that he is hoping to build on this success for next season which will also see a return to the AFC Cup for the Eagles.While the Eagles celebrate this latest success, we all hope that this will be the start of a new dawn for Geylang United in the coming seasons.

Report by: Hugo Ng

Thursday, January 12, 2012

When everyone is taling about 12Lions

Now that the media and fans have warmed up to 12Lions, think I can take a break about talking about local soccer for awhile.

Ultimately I am on the side of the realists who are concerned about our own local league - S.league!

We will hope for the spillover considering in many sense S.league standard is actually comparable to the M League.

Well just have to strive harder to bring our own league up 1 level when the season begins!

Uniform Derby (S.league) - 31/12/11

A phone call between the coaches was all it took as the country’s two uniformed teams put their recent work on the training pitch to test on New Year’s Eve at Jalan Besar Stadium.

In the end, the game went in favour of the side which have had a solid week of pre-season training – SAF FC, by a 2-0 scoreline.

In contrast, Home United had just started work three days earlier. Coach Lee Lim Seang’s main intention was to check on the condition of his charges after having spent the past weeks back in Korea to attain his UEFA Pro Licence.

During the game, the Warriors paraded their two new signings from Tampines - Shukor Zailan and Hassan Sunny, along Eddie Chang and a bunch of promising young boys who have been promoted from their Prime League team.

Lee, on the same note, took a first look at promising Hafiz Nor (from Tanjong Pagar) and compatriot Chang Jo Yoon (from Gombak), while checking out a new look defence consisting of seasoned campaigners like Sofiyan Abdul Hamid, Jeremy Chiang and Zahid Ahmad along a Korean trialist.

However it was in midfield where the attention was as it featured former Warriors Rhysh Roshan Rai and the ever industrious John Wilkinson, who was returning from his Thai adventure.

New signing Shotaro Ihata was carrying a minor injury, thus did not feature, as were key men Shi Jiayi and Frederic Mendy who were still on holiday.

Earlier on in the game, it was Shahril Jantan in the Warriors goal who was the busiest as he was tested fully by Hafiz, Roshan Rai and Qiu Li. Wilkinson also had a trademark long range blaster crashing against the woodwork.

But it was the returnee in the Warriors’ camp - Ruzaini Zainal (on loan to Young Lions), that was instrumental in the final result as the winger were involved in both moves which saw the strike duo of Fazrul Nawaz and Erwan Gunawan finish off in the 30th and 33th minute.

Notably, the second period saw the return to action of Hassan in the Warriors’ goal and the national custodian impressed in his run-out with a couple of good saves.

Post-match, SAF coach Richard Bok expressed satisfaction with the game as he maintained the priority in making his team gel quickly before the season begins.

“We still have five players who are not back with us”, referring to Daniel Bennett, foreign signings Mislav Karolgan, Shimpei Sakurada, Tatsuro Inui and former Japanese youth international Seiji Saito.

With his recent acquisitions, Bok is hopeful that the reshaped team will be able to play the ideal type of football he is envisaging.

“We are trying to move towards a passing game, to keep the ball as much as possible. Hopefully, with these new guys, we can build a more balanced game to challenge for honours”.

While Bok has settled on his squad and strategy for the coming season, it is obvious the same cannot be same with Lee.

Quizzed about his defence which seemed vulnerable on many occasions during the game following the confirmation of defensive rock Valery Hiek to Thai outfit Bangkok Glass, it seemed Lee had already in place a partial solution.

“As you saw today, we got a big problem (in defence)!” he quipped.

“So I have called Kenji (Arai) and he is coming back next week to be with us”.

The experienced Japanese defender had earlier left the Protectors after not being offered an extension to his deal.

“People can worry about our defence now, but we train as a unit and let’s see what we can show when the season starts”, he smiled confidently.