Singapore Premier League • November 7, 2015
Eagles Denied Victory By Gusty Young Lions
Written by: Shawn Lim
Courts Young Lions produced a spirited fightback to snatch a thrilling 2-2 draw with Geylang International at Jalan Besar Stadium on Friday night.
Goals from Bruno Castanheira and Shawal Anuar put the visitors ahead before substitute Irfan Fandi pulled a goal back for the hosts and Huzaifah Aziz suffered the ignominy of scoring an own-goal to help the Young Lions achieve their comeback.
The draw meant that the Young Lions avoided defeat in their last home game of the season and remained in eighth place in the Great Eastern Yeo’s S.League table with 27 points, three points ahead of Geylang.
The Eagles started brightly and could have taken the lead as early as the seventh minute when Castanheira’s cut-back from a Hafiz Nor’s cross found Tatsuro Inui in the 18-yard box, but he could only curl narrowly over the bar.
Young Lions custodian Syazwan Buhari then failed to deal with Shawal Anuar’s swinging cross in the 15th minute, but he was let off the hook when Kento Fukuda could only head the ball wide.
The hardworking Shawal was in the thick of the action again three minutes later when he nicked the ball off Safirul Sulaiman on right flank and laid it off to Hafiz Nor, but the winger’s low drive stung the palms of Syazwan.
There was a close call for Young Lions when Sheikh Abdul Hadi almost turned Hafiz Nor’s piledriver from 30 yards out into his own net, but the ball went out for a corner instead.
The deadlock was finally broken in the 25th minute when a blistering counter-attack by Geylang led by Inui ended with Castanheira slamming the ball into the bottom corner of the net from the edge of the 18-yard box.
Inui, posing all kinds of problems to the Young Lions defence with his pace and trickery, could have doubled the Eagles’ lead five minutes later after leaving Fadli Kamis for dead and going on a mazy run.
However, the Japanese midfielder’s shot from the edge of the box lacked power and was comfortably saved by Syazwan.
The hosts continued in their struggle to carve out chances for themselves, but almost pulled level when Sherif El-Masri’s dangerous free kick was pushed away by Geylang custodian Yazid Yasin in the 31st minute.
That turned out to be El-Masri’s first and last piece of action in the game as he was soon replaced by Irfan, with Amy Recha coming on for Nur Na’iim Ishak after Young Lions coach Juergen Raab decided he had seen enough.
In spite of the changes, it was the Eagles who looked the most likely to score again as half-time loomed when Inui lofted the ball to an unmarked Castanheira.
The Japanese striker was only 12 yards away from goal but with all the time in the world he fired well wide of the target.
Geylang emerged from the break re-focused and dangerous as they searched for a second goal and almost succeeded just two minutes into the second period.
A one-two exchange between Castanheira and Hafiz Nor saw the former sending the latter through on goal, but the Singaporean could only slam his shot against the side-netting.
The Young Lions should have equalised in the 54th minute when Fadli connected with Safirul’s corner but sent his header wide while under pressure from Yazid.
The second goal soon materialised for the visitors when Shawal swivelled away from his marker and lashed home Hafiz Nor’s cut-back from close range in the 63rd minute.
Shah Hirul subsequently tried an ambitious effort from 30 yards out three minutes later, but saw his shot fly narrowly over the woodwork.
Rabb’s decision to make the double substitution before half-time finally paid off when Irfan combined with Amy to smash home a first-time effort from the margins of the 18-yard box in the 73rd minute.
The goal rejuvenated the Young Lions and they almost pulled level four minutes later when Afiq Noor dazzled his way to the edge of the box and fired off a fierce drive which was pushed to safety by Yazid.
There was nothing Yazid could do about the Young Lions’ equaliser though, when Huzaifah bundled Taufik Suparno’s cross into his own goal in the 79th minute to send the partisan crowd of 2,117 into a frenzied celebration.
The hosts almost took the lead four minutes later when Jordan Webb made a run inside from the left flank and fired off a piledriver at goal which was thwarted by Yazid.
The visitors then wasted a couple of glorious opportunities to take the lead again when Jozef Kaplan fired wide from 20 yards out after Castanheira cut-back, before both players combined again and the Eagles captain sent the Japanese through on goal.
However, Castanheira’s first touch was poor and Syazwan came off his line to claim the ball as the final whistle arrived shortly after.
Courts Young Lions: Syazwan Buhari (GK) (C), Fadli Kamis, Amirul Adli, Sheikh Abdul Hadi, Safirul Sulaiman, Afiq Noor, Ammirul Emmran (Shamil Sharif 78′), Sherif El-Masri (Irfan Fandi 37′), Jordan Webb, Nur Na’iim Ishak (Amy Recha 37′), Taufk Suparno
Geylang International: Yazid Yasin (GK), Kento Fukuda, Syed Thaha (Huzaifah Aziz 55′), Hafiz Osman, Nor Azli, Yuki Ichikawa, Tatsuro Inui (Shah Hirul 59′), Shawal Anuar (Khairulnizam Jumahat 90′), Hafiz Nor, Jozef Kaplan (C), Bruno Castanheira