Match Review: Eagles Disappoint in Sorry Defeat to Cheetahs


Photo credit: Rishi Raja

Lessons were not heeded in the Geylang International camp as they fell to a 4-1 defeat to Hougang United after going in front early in the second Group B match of the Singapore Cup on Tuesday night (November 1).


Despite highlighting their surrendering of two-goal advantange in the previous league outing against the Cheetahs in September, the Eagles once again were not able to hold on to their lead as their defence collapsed in the face of their opponents' heavy assaults, gifting them four goals in the process.


The back-to-back cup defeats condemed the 2009 cup winners to the bottom of Group B with zero point.


Barring a huge victory over Tanjong Pagar United in the final round - coupled with a favour from Tampines Rovers in inflicting Hougang United with a heavy loss - Geylang International look set to be eliminated for the 2022 edition.


With Eagles head coach Noor Ali tinkering his personnel upfront by playing Hazzuwan Halim and Tajeli Salamat in their unorthodox inverted winger positions, the tactical move proved a masterstroke as the away side started the game brightly and created numerous chances in the attacking third.


The visitors were rewarded a 9th-minute goal when a deep cross from Vincent Bezecourt on the left was diverted into goal from six yards via the head of Hazzuwan Halim.


Bezecourt, who was recently named the Ultras Eagles' Player of the Season, thought that he had doubled the lead in the 21st minute when his freekick rebounded the frame and across goal. But due to the absence of goalline technology, no one was definitively sure that the ball had crossed the line.


Geylang International were to rue that missed goal as Hougang United levelled the score in the 34th minute, courtesy of the combined forces of two former players - Amy Recha and Shawal Anuar.


The Eagles' night then gone sour quickly after the break when the Cheetahs struck twice more in quick succession.


Amy got into the act again in the 48th minute when he volleyed the ball home from close range. Eight minutes later, ex-Crystal Palace man Andre Moritz headed into the net from a Zulfahmi Arifin's corner.


Hougang United's creative spark, Kristijan Krajcek, then added his team's fourth with 15 minutes remaining, which extinguished any hopes of a Geylang International comeback.


Three goals down and a negative goal difference of -4 in the table, the Eagles belatedly roused from their slumber and laid siege on the Cheetahs' goal in an attempt to reduce those deficits.


But standing in their way between the sticks was their former keeper, Zainol Gulam.


Zainol, affectionately known as the "King of Kallang" by the Geylang International fans, established himself as the hero of Hougang as he repelled all shots that were fired in his direction.


Unable to score past the opposing goalie, the Eagles left the pitch in frustration and lamented how they ended up on the receiving end of a heavy defeat, which puts them on the brink of an early exit from the Cup.


Man of the Match: Ultras Eagles - The few brave souls have to be commended for making the trip to the Cheetahs' Den, only to watch their beloved team putting in a wretched performance. Outnumbered in an inhospitable surrounding, the band of supporters also had to endure taunting from the home fans towards the end of the match. But they never wavered in their support and stayed for the team till the final whistle.

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