Singapore Cup • July 3, 2014
Balestier Keep Nerves To Triumph In Penalty Shootout
Written By: Kenneth Ho
(Aggregate score: Balestier Khalsa 2-2 Geylang International; Balestier Khalsa win 4-3 on penalty shootout)
Balestier progressed to the semi-finals of the RHB Singapore Cup at the expense of Geylang International, after triumphing 4-3 in the dreaded penalty shootout despite a 1-0 loss in the return leg of the quarter finals.
Joaquin Lopez scored for Geylang in the 58th minute to level the two-legged quarter-finals to 2-2 on aggregate but it proved a mere consolation for the Eagles as they were made to bow out of the competition after coming up short in the penalty shootout.
Balestier had come into the game with a 2-1 advantage, but both sides knew that it was a slender advantage as they both went on the offensive right from the go.
Both teams’ goalkeeper were rarely tested in the first half, as Balestier and Geylang both attempted to break the deadlock via shots from distance, which were more often than not off the mark.
However, the goalkeepers did suffer a scare each, as Kim Minho saw his volley crash off the post in the 12th minute before Mustaqim saw his curling effort follow suit at the other end five minutes later.
Goran Ljubojevic was wasteful with several gilt-edged chances as he first put the ball over in the 22nd minute despite out-jumping Geylang goalkeeper Siddiq Durimi before hitting a tame shot at the custodian minutes later.
Park nearly produced a moment of magic in the 28th minute when he slammed a sublime 20-yard freekick towards goal but Siddiq was able to tip the ball away as the chances soon stopped coming and and the half ended.
The second half saw more goalmouth action at the Geylang end, but Siddiq was in inspired form as he repeatedly kept Balestier at bay.
Park was involved in the first chance in the 48th minute. Pouncing onto Khairulnizam Jumahat’s mis-pass and spotting Siddiq off his line, the South Korean promptly sent in a thumping effort. However, the Geylang custodian once again did well to deny Park by racing back in time to push the ball behind.
In the 52nd minute, Kim found Zulkiffli Hassim with a back heel in the danger area but Siddiq came off his lines quickly to parry away the midfielder’s shot.
The Tigers were made to pay for those misses as Geylang soon leveled the aggregate score and went ahead in the game in the 58th minute. After a goalmouth scramble which saw Balester goalkeeper Zaiful Nizam stranded, Lopez headed into an empty net to put the Eagles up.
Balestier tried to peg the hosts back immediately but Siddiq was at it again to push away a point-blank shot from Ljubojevic after the Croatian was on the receiving end of a cross by Park.
Geylang could have extended their lead in the 72nd minute but Zaiful did well to push away Mustaqim curling effort before Emir Lotinac and company had to charge down several shots.
Either side could have claimed victory just before full time, only for Balestier to waste another glorious opportunity while the Eagles saw a goal-bound effort cleared off the line.
In the 88th minute, Park released his compatriot Kim and the latter unselfishly played the ball past Siddiq to Ruhaizad, but the substitute ballooned his shot from 12 yards out over despite the unguarded goal.
Deep into injury time, Ljubojevic then cleared Ichikawa header off the line as the game went into extra-time.
From the restart, Ruhaizad proceeded to waste another chance to draw his side level and give them the advantage on aggregate as he blasted over from a tight angle despite latching onto Syed Thaha’s infield cross.
Zaiful then had to make a big save to keep his side level on aggregate as he pushed away Leonel Felice’s shot in the 104th minute before the end of the first extra 15 minutes.
The following half of extra time saw Geylang coming close twice, but they were unable to capitalise on their chances as the game went to penalties.
Kento Fukuda missed the first chance when he failed to get a touch on Mustaqim’s floating free kick despite finding himself alone in front of goal in the 114 minute before Hafiz Nor dazzled his way past the Balestier defence only to unleash a shot which had Zaiful beaten but not the crossbar.
With the game coming to a close, Geylang used its last substitution to take off the excellent Siddiq and sent on Joey Sim for the penalty shootout.
The tactic seemed to have paid off as Park saw his shot being saved by Sim while Felice converted his attempt to put the Eagles in the driving seat.
Both Geylang midfielders Mustaqim and Fabian Kwok duly converted their spot-kicks as did Emir and Kim for Balestier.
However the momentum then swung in Balestier’s favour as Geylang captain Ridhuan Muhammad saw his effort being saved to level the scores.
Nurullah proceeded to put his past Sim and with all eyes on Fukuda, the Japanese hit a weak shot which Zaiful was able to get a hand to.
The initiative was handed to Balestier and Syed Thaha stepped up for the decisive penalty which he blasted strongly into the net to give Balestier the win.
The win ensured Balestier maintained its dream of cup glory as they earned themselves a date with Tampines in the semi-final of Singapore Cup.