Match Review: Unstoppable Eagles Soar New Heights


Photo credit: Idi Bakhtiar

Geylang International's series of impressive results in recent months are finally rewarded with a top-half league position, as a 3-0 home win over Young Lions on Saturday (August 27) lifted the club from sixth to fourth.


The Eagles' ascent came at the expense of Hougang United and Tanjong Pagar United, who failed to pick up points in their earlier matches.


With six more league games to go, the hunt for continental football hots up, as Geylang International are now only a point behind the AFC Cup qualifying berth, currently held by third-placed Tampines Rovers who have a game in hand.


But the home side - touted as firm favourites by the bookmakers - were given an early scare by the developmental team.


Eight minutes into the contest, Young Lions forward Abdul Rasaq pounced on a loose header by Faizal Roslan and drilled the ball low.


Faizal heaved a relief when Zaiful Nizam bailed him out of trouble with a smart save.


The youthful opponents also gave the Eagles a hard time in attack as the former defended in numbers, akin to parking a bus in goal.


But the in-form squad, who have recorded seven victories from previous nine fixtures, had never doubted their ability to score and that breakthrough arrived in the 32nd minute.


Joshua Pereira clocked his first goal for the club when he raced to Ilhan Noor's cross and headed into the net.


Sime Zuzul then joined Pereira on the scoresheet with a brace in the second half.


Having had an uncharacteristically quiet game in the first half, the club top goalscorer came out for the second period bursting with energy.


With fans barely returning to their seats from the half-time break, Zuzul ran to Huzaifah Aziz's threaded pass and slotted the ball beyond the reach of young goalie Ridwan Fikri.


That strike equalled his previous record of scoring in nine consecutive matches when he was with Balestier Khalsa last season.


The goal machine double his account at the hour mark in nearly similar fashion.


Running off the shoulder of the last defender, Zuzul reached for Vincent Bezecourt's searching pass and found himself in a one-on-one situation with Young Lions defender Harhys Stewart.


After escaping his marker with some nifty footwork, the Croatian hotshot struck past a diving Ridwan.


The ace striker could have netted a hat-trick six minutes from time. But his shot from the edge of the box was repelled by the opposing custodian.


The final whistle was music to the ears of the Eagles camp and they rejoiced their lofty position in the league standings.


But with their next foes Lion City Sailors thumping their opponents by cricket scorelines in recent weeks, Geylang International head coach Noor Ali would be quick to tell his charges not to let success go to their heads, and to double their effort in the training ground in preparation for a looming onslaught.


Man of the match: Sime Zuzul - The 26-year-old Croat, who recently credited his goal-scoring streak to his fiancée's stay in Singapore, continued to pump in the goals in the second half which put the result beyond doubt. The talismanic striker, whose recent goal contributions have been immense in driving Geylang International's charge for continental football, would hope to break his personal record of scoring in nine successive games when facing league leaders Lion City Sailors next weekend.

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