Singapore Premier League • October 16, 2014

Hafiz leads Geylang’s comeback against Harimau Muda

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Written by: Shawn Lim

A Hafiz Nor-inspired Geylang International came from behind to beat Harimau Muda 2-1 on Wednesday evening at the Pasir Gudang stadium.

Despite going down to an early Syafwan Syahlan goal, Geylang fought back through Hafiz’s equaliser before Japanese defender Kento Fukuda headed in the winning goal for the Eagles.

It was an entertaining first half at Pasir Gudang Stadium in which the hosts were organised as they packed bodies behind the ball and frustrated the Eagles, with Faris Shah and Afiq Fazail industrious in front of Harimau’s back four.

Wingers Nor Azam Azih and Akhir Bahari gave the Eagles’ wing-backs a torrid time as well; with both having chances to open the scoring for Harimau in the third and tenth minute respectively.

Moments later, striker Syafwan Syahlan broke the deadlock and silenced the fans in the away stand in the 13th minute. He had climbed the highest to meet Akhir’s corner and headed the ball past Geylang goalkeeper Siddiq Durimi,

However, Syafwan’s joy was short-lived as immediately after the restart, Leonel Felice’s long ball from the centre circle found Hafiz, whose first touch was a sudden turn that left Asri Mardzuki for dead.

He then dribbled past Harimau’s captain Ashmawi Yakin, before slotting the ball past Harimau custodian Ramdhan Hamid in the 14th minute to equalise for Geylang.

Hafiz was in action again six minutes later, when he stole the ball off Annas Rahmat and sent a through ball to Franco Chivilo. But the Argentinean was adjudged to be in an offside position.

Chances then came in thick and fast as both sides tried to wrestle for control of the game.

After an attack broke down for Harimau in the 28th minute, Siddiq immediately started off the Eagle’s counter-attack by kicking the ball out to the flanks to Hafiz. However, the winger overhit his cross despite seeing Felice free in the box.

With four minutes left to half-time, it was Harimau’s turn to try to break the deadlock. Nor sent a dangerous cross into Geylang’s box, but Kento Fukuda was on hand to head the ball out for a corner with Syafwan lurking nearby.

Geylang came out after the break attacking with intent and finally found the breakthrough on the hour mark. Shah Hirul’s cross from the left found an unmarked Fukuda and the Japanese sent his header to the back of the net in the 65th minute.

Harimau seemed to lose the confidence that they displayed in the first half after Geylang took the lead, with Shahrul Igwan and Syafwan guilty of failing to convert their chances in front of goal.

They also had a hard time overcoming a tight Geylang defence, led by midfielder turned defender, Fabian Kwok. The Malaysian side had a glorious chance to equalise in the 72nd minute, but skipper Asri saw his free kick turned away at the near post by Siddiq.

Things got worse for the Young Tigers when they were reduced to 10 men with two minutes to go before the final whistle.

Nor failed to stop his rampaging run in to the box after being sent through by Faris and it resulted in a collision with Siddiq. Despite the pleas of the Young Tifers, Nor was sent off for an early shower.

Felice almost made it three for Geylang with what was effectively the last chance of the game.

The 30-year-old’s dribbling skills found him in a one-on-one situation with Ramdhan and after the Malaysian goalkeeper spilled his shot, Felice tried to shoot again but Asri got back in time to block the shot.