Singapore Premier League • May 20, 2018

Zainol turns in goalkeeping masterclass as Geylang beat Warriors


The Eagles custodian played a blinder as he kept out the nine-time champions in a 2-0 win

Jonathan Behe could find no way past Zainol Gulam.

SINGAPORE, 20 MAY 2018Fumiya Kogure and Shawal Anuar scored the goals, but Zainol Gulam was the real hero with his stunning display between the sticks to help Geylang International FC beat Warriors FC 2-0 at the Singapore Sports Hub on Sunday night.

The 26-year-old goalkeeper produced a series of impressive saves in the second half to keep his old side at bay and help Geylang pick up a second straight win to go seventh in the Great Eastern-Hyundai Singapore Premier League (SPL) table.

The result meant Mirko Grabovac’s Warriors are still searching for their first win of the season after nine matches as they drop to eighth.

The nine-time champions had started off the more enterprising of the two sides and almost scored after just three minutes, as Sahil Suhaimi curled a shot wide off Emmeric Ong’s cross.

However, Geylang would be the team to break the deadlock in the 13th minute. With Fairoz Hasan drawing Hafiz Sulaiman into a silly foul inside the box, Kogure stepped up to send Warriors goalkeeper Mukundan Muran the wrong way for his first goal in Eagles colours.

Warriors worked hard to get back into the game thereafter, but were limited to a couple of hopeful shots from range.

Geylang almost scored again on 36 minutes, with Fuad Ramli seeing his close-range snapshot denied by Mukundan after being teed up by the effervescent Shawal Anuar.

Just seconds later, Jonathan Behe volleyed over wastefully after taking down Ong’s deep cross.

Geylang were quicker out of the blocks after the break and doubled their lead three minutes into the second half.

Kogure’s free-kick into the area was flicked into the path of Zulfadli Zainal, whose shot was blocked on the line by Ismadi Mukhtar, only for Shawal to convert the rebound.

That goal woke Warriors up from their slumber as they went on to dominate the rest of the game, but were denied by a combination of superb goalkeeping and bad luck.

Zainol’s goalkeeping masterclass began when he thwarted Sahil in a one-on-one opportunity on 58 minutes, before tipping the latter’s goal-bound free-kick around the post a minute later.

A stunning reflex save to tip over Sahil’s fierce volley from just outside the box was the pick of the bunch, though he also thrice denied Behe – prompting cheers of “There’s only one Zainol Gulam” from the boisterous Ultra Eagles supporters.

Behe, who also hit the bar with a header, then appeared set to break Zainol’s resistance when Sahil was brought down in the box deep into injury time.

But the French forward’s penalty crashed off the right-hand post to the dismay of the Warriors supporters, making Zainol the only goalkeeper to keep a clean sheet in Week 7 of the SPL.

Hirotaka Usui’s men will look to extend their unbeaten run to four matches when they host Tampines Rovers FC next Sunday, while Warriors will endeavor to end their poor form away to Young Lions a night earlier.

Warriors Head Coach Grabovac: “In the first half, we had problems and we needed a lot of time to wake up. We must concentrate and cannot make (concede) a penalty like that. He (Hafiz) has the ball and want to hit it, but the player (opponent) comes and he hit the player.

“But in the last 30 minutes, we played fantastic(ally) and created many… chances but did not score. Even the penalty, we could not score – what can I say?

“Today my team had over 50 crosses and you can calculate how many shots we have. Geylang’s goalkeeper is very good, but the reaction of my strikers is (also) not very good. They must be more cool (composed); they can kick low and (have) no need (to) always go for power. Also, if Behe is 100 per cent fit, he would have scored (at least) three.”

Geylang Head Coach Usui: “We’re very lucky to have Zainol in this game and I’m proud of him. Against Young Lions, he made an easy mistake, which cost us two points. But today, he saved us maybe four or five times and we’re going to give him one big present.

“The last 10 minutes was very dangerous (for us), they had Kento (Fukuda) and Behe – the twin towers – upfront and we only have Yuki (Ichikawa) in defence so it’s very difficult. We must not forget that our defenders worked very hard.

“Actually when we lost against Albirex (Niigata FC (S)), we lost 5-0 but the defending wasn’t so bad; it was just four to five individual mistakes. I just focused on (getting) the team tactics (right) and I’m happy we kept our first clean sheet today.

“Playing at the National Stadium is a big and important experience for our young players. Of course it’s the same ball, same pitch size but the atmosphere is different. I also want to credit today’s win to our kitman Abdul Latiff because it’s his birthday. He comes to work at 7am and only leaves at 8pm. At Geylang, we are a small club but every person does hard work for the club.”

Warriors: Mukundan Maran (GK), Emmeric Ong, Ismadi Mukhtar, Hafiz Sulaiman, Ho Wai Loon, Ammirul Emmran (Shamil Sharif 46’), Poh Yi Feng (C) (Kento Fukuda 73’), Tajeli Salamat (Suria Prakash 46’), Firdaus Kasman, Sahil Suhaimi, Jonathan Behe.
Unused subs: Hyrulnizam Juma’at (GK), Delwinder Singh, Ignatius Ang, Nur Luqman.

Geylang: Zainol Gulam (GK), Darren Teh, Jufri Taha, Danish Irfan (Ryson Yap 77’), Ryan Syaffiq, Yuki Ichikawa (C), Fuad Ramli, Zulfadli Zainal Abidin, Fumiya Kogure, Fairoz Hasan (Azhar Sairudin 61’), Shawal Anuar (Cameron Bell 83’).
Unused subs: Basil Chan (GK), Yeo Hai Ngee, Sadiq Rahim, Noor Ariff.

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