Geylang to meet defending champions Albirex in semi-finals
Bruneian side to meet Warriors in semis, Geylang face defending champions Albirex
|BRUNEI DPMM FC||GEYLANG INTERNATIONAL|
(Adi Said 20, Maududi Hilmi 69, Hendra Azam 84)
(Victor Coto 23, Ricardo Sendfa 49, Taufiq Ghani 67-pen)
Both teams had already qualified for the semi-finals.
What was at stake was top spot and Brunei DPMM FC and Geylang International gave it their all in The New Paper League Cup clash at the Jalan Besar Stadium last night.
The pulsating match ended 3-3, and this meant DPMM finished top of Group B by virtue of a superior goal difference, and will face Warriors FC in the semi-finals next Tuesday.
Geylang, on the other hand, will face S.League leaders and defending TNP League Cup champions Albirex Niigata on the same evening.
The Eagles players have only themselves to blame for squandering a 3-1 lead.
Geylang coach Noor Ali, however, insisted he was more than satisfied with his charges.
"I'm very happy with the performance and, to me, this game was about giving our Prime League (U-21 reserve) players a chance," said the coach, who named five Prime League players in his starting 11.
"There was a little inexperience and a few small mistakes, but they will learn from this."
Last night, DPMM got off to the perfect start when Adi Said opened the scoring in the 20th minute with a beautiful shot that curled into the top corner.
The lead lasted only three minutes, however, when Geylang striker Victor Coto headed home a free-kick from impressive 19-year-old midfielder Noor Ariff.
After the break, Geylang stormed ahead thanks to goals from Ricardo Sendra (49th) and Taufiq Ghani from the penalty spot (67th).
But three-time League Cup winners DPMM fought back to stun the Eagles.
First, Maududi Hilmi arrowed a volley home in the 69th minute, before the Bruneian side claimed a fortuitous equaliser in the 84th minute when a Geylang defender's clearance cannoned off Hendra Azam and into goal.
In the dying minutes of the game, the Eagles pushed Japanese defender Yuki Ichikawa and even goalkeeper Syazwan Buhari up front in search of the winner, which proved elusive.
DPMM coach Steve Kean was delighted with his team's comeback, although he stressed he did not feel they got the "easier" opponents in the semi-finals.
"To get to the semi-finals unbeaten is really good for us and shows a great desire in the team," said the former Blackburn Rovers manager.
"For us, it's not about avoiding anybody.
"Our first goal was to qualify for the semi-finals and the second was to top the group, and we've done both those things.
"I don't think there are any easy games."